U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday that talks are underway with Russia to free Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been held in a Moscow jail for more than 100 days on an espionage charge that he denies.
The Kremlin earlier this month said it was open to another prisoner swap with the U.S., one that would free Gershkovich, possibly in exchange for Vladimir Dunaev, a Russian in U.S. custody on cybercrime charges. But Moscow said the negotiations must be carried out in secret.
Biden, speaking at a news conference in Finland, made clear that the U.S. is interested.
“I'm serious on a prisoner exchange,” the U.S. leader said. “And I'm serious about doing all we can to free Americans being illegally held in Russia or anywhere else for that matter, and that process is underway.”
Gershkovich was arrested on espionage charges in the city of Yekaterinburg while on a reporting trip. A Moscow court recently upheld a ruling to keep him in custody until August 30.
Russia has said an exchange could not occur until the charges against him have been adjudicated, but no trial date has been set.