Russia sends US reporter Gershkovich’s case to trial


Washington has accused Moscow of arresting US citizens on baseless charges to use them as bargaining chips to secure the release of Russians convicted abroad.

The US government has declared Gershkovich as wrongfully detained, meaning it effectively regards him as a political hostage.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in February he would like to see Gershkovich released as part of a prisoner exchange.

In remarks to conservative American TV commentator Tucker Carlson, Putin said talks between Russia and the United States about a possible swap were ongoing.

However, the Russian leader made clear he wanted any deal to involve the release of a Russian jailed in Germany for killing a Chechen dissident.

Among other US citizens detained in Russia is reporter Alsu Kurmasheva, detained last year for failing to register as a “foreign agent”. Her employers denounced the case against her as politically motivated.

Former US marine Paul Whelan, in prison in Russia since 2018 and serving a 16-year sentence on espionage charges, is also pushing to be included in any future prisoner exchange.

Gershkovich’s family told AFP earlier this year they were counting on a “very personal” promise from President Joe Biden to bring him home.

At Lefortovo prison, the reporter shares a small cell with another inmate.

He gets an hour-long walk in a small prison yard every day, tries to stay fit through exercise and relies on fruit and vegetables sent by friends to supplement the meagre prison diet.

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