In a recent interview, Tucker Carlson urged Russian President Vladimir V. Putin to release American reporter Evan Gershkovich from a Moscow prison where he has been held for nearly a year. This appeal by Mr. Carlson marks the second time that President Putin has directly addressed the case, which has garnered international attention and strained diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia.
During the two-hour interview, Mr. Putin mostly focused on recounting Russian history, but in the final minutes, Mr. Carlson made a heartfelt plea for the release of Gershkovich, stating, “as a sign of your decency… would you be willing to release him to us and we’ll bring him back to the United States.” However, President Putin was noncommittal in his response, stating, “We have done so many gestures of good will out of decency that I think we have run out of them.”
Following Mr. Carlson’s interview, President Putin suggested that he wanted additional concessions from American officials before considering the release of Mr. Gershkovich. He even proposed a potential trade for a Russian citizen serving a life sentence in Germany. This has left the fate of Gershkovich uncertain as the Russian leader has indicated that he might be open to a prisoner swap, but only after a verdict in his case.
Mr. Gershkovich, who was arrested in March in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg on espionage charges, has been designated as “wrongfully detained” by the U.S. government. Since then, he has been held at the notorious Lefortovo Prison in Moscow pending a trial.
The Wall Street Journal, where Gershkovich worked as a reporter, has expressed hope for his rapid release following Russia’s desire for a potential deal. However, the uncertainty surrounding Gershkovich’s case continues to persist, with his detention extended multiple times and Russian authorities indicating the possibility of a prisoner exchange.
Opinion: The international community must continue to apply pressure on the Russian government to ensure the safe and swift release of Evan Gershkovich. Press freedom is a fundamental right, and the unjust detention of journalists like Gershkovich undermines this fundamental principle. It is imperative that diplomatic efforts are made to bring him back to his home country and reunite him with his family and colleagues.