Trump claims Putin will release jailed journalist Evan Gershkovich ‘for him’

Wall Street Journal journalist has been detained in Russia for over a year

James Liddell
Thursday 23 May 2024 12:25
Related: Trump claims people are being ‘mugged and killed outside’ courthouse

Donald Trump has said that Valdimir Putin will release Evan Gershkovich “immediately” after the presidential election in November, brazenly claiming that the Russian president will “do that for me” but “not anyone else”.

Mr Gershkovich, 32, is a reporter at the Wall Street Journal covering Russia, who was detained in the city of Yekaterinburg by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) on espionage charges in March last year. He has spent well over a year in a Moscow prison, with no date set for a trial. Mr Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal and the US government all strenuously deny the charges and any wrongdoing by Mr Gershkovich.

The US-born journalist, who has been held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, obtained full press credentials from Russia’s foreign ministry, according to his employer.

Just days after the journalist’s arrest, president Joe Biden demanded that the Russian government “let him go”, which the Kremlin ignored.

Mr Trump touted that the reporter would be released soon after 5 November if he was to defeat Mr Biden at the ballot box.

Evan Gershkovich smiles as he stands behind the glass at his April trial
Evan Gershkovich smiles as he stands behind the glass at his April trial (AP)

“Evan Gershkovich, the Reporter from The Wall Street Journal, who is being held by Russia, will be released almost immediately after the Election, but definitely before I assume Office,” he wrote on his social media platform Truth Social on Thursday morning.

“He will be home, safe, and with his family,” the former president added.

Mr Trump also trumpeted his special bond with Mr Putin, claiming that nobody but him could ensure the extradition of Mr Gershkovich to the US.

“Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, will do that for me, but not for anyone else, and we will be paying nothing!,” he added.

Mr Trump did not say whether he has had contact with the Russian president, nor the grounds he believed that Mr Gershkovich would be released. The Kremlin also denied any contact between Mr Putin and the former US president.

“Putin has naturally not had contact with Donald Trump,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a Moscow courtroom in September 2023
Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a Moscow courtroom in September 2023 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Mr Putin said in February that it might be possible to free Mr Gershkovich in exchange for Vadim Krasikov, a high-ranking high-ranking colonel imprisoned in Berlin for murder over the killing of Chechen exile Zelimkhan Khangoshvili.

A Berlin court called the killing a “state-ordered murder”; Mr Putin and the Kremlin deny these claims.

Mr Trump first publicly called for the release of the Wall Street Journal journalist on 30 April.

“The reporter should be released and he will be released,” Trump told Time Magazine.

“I don’t know if he’s going to be released under [president] Biden. I would get him released,” he added.

Mr Trump had long remained silent about Mr Gershkovich’s detention.

He said that it was “because I have so many other things I’m working on”,

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