U.S. and Russia in talks to free imprisoned American journalist Evan Gershkovich

In comments made during an interview with the Rossiya-1 TV channel, Putin stated that constant contact exists between Russian and U.S. authorities regarding Gershkovich’s case.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed there are ongoing negotiations between Moscow and Washington over the possible release of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been imprisoned in Russia on espionage charges since March 2022.

In comments made during an interview with the Rossiya-1 TV channel, Putin stated that constant contact exists between Russian and U.S. authorities regarding Gershkovich’s case. He suggested that intelligence agencies were engaged in quiet dialogue to resolve the matter.

Gershkovich, a U.S. citizen, was detained in late March while on assignment for the Wall Street Journal in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. He was subsequently charged with espionage, which he vehemently denies. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

The Biden administration has repeatedly condemned Gershkovich’s arrest as unlawful and called for his immediate release, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken stating there is no credible basis for the charges against him.

While prisoner exchanges between the U.S. and Russia have occurred in the past, including a high-profile swap last December, negotiations over Gershkovich appear to be in the early stages based on Putin’s comments. The journalist’s family has voiced fears he is being used as a political bargaining chip amid the broader tensions sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Despite the difficulties, Putin’s acknowledgement that contact is happening between the two intelligence services represents a potential opening and signals Moscow may be open to negotiations over Gershkovich’s fate.

For the Wall Street Journal and Gershkovich’s supporters, the top priority remains to secure the release of the journalist, whose continued detainment they decry as a violation of basic media freedoms and human rights standards.

The case remains a significant source of friction in the already strained relationship between the U.S. and Russia.