In an interview published Thursday, Tucker Carlson urged Russian President Vladimir V. Putin to free an American journalist from the Wall Street Journal who has been held in a notorious Moscow prison for nearly a year.
Mr. Carlson’s call on behalf of journalist Evan Gershkovich was only the second time Mr. Putin has directly addressed a matter that has galvanized press freedom groups and strained diplomatic relations with the United States. United.
Much of the two-hour interview was taken up with Mr. Putin’s recounting of hundreds of years of Russian history. But in the final minutes, Mr. Carlson asked, “as a sign of your decency,” if he “would be willing to release him to us and we will bring him back to the United States.” Mr Carlson added: “This guy is obviously not a spy. He’s a kid, and maybe he was breaking your law in some way, but he’s not a super-spy, and everyone knows that.
Mr. Putin was evasive in his response. “We have made so many gestures of goodwill out of decency that I think we are running out of them,” he said, according to a translation of his remarks by Mr. Carlson’s team.
Pressed by Mr. Carlson on the matter, Mr. Putin later added: “I also want him to finally return to his native country.” I am absolutely sincere. But let me repeat, the dialogue continues.
The Russian leader suggested he wanted additional concessions from U.S. officials before considering Mr. Gershkovich’s release. Mr Putin suggested he might be willing to trade the journalist for Vadim Krasikova Russian citizen sentenced to life in prison in Germany for the 2019 murder of a former Chechen separatist fighter in Berlin.
Mr. Gershkovich, 32, was the first American journalist to be arrested for spying in Russia since the end of the Cold War, and the American government has designated him “wrongfully detained,” meaning he is essentially considered a political prisoner.
He was arrested in March in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg and charged with espionage, an allegation that the Journal and U.S. authorities have vigorously denied. Since then, he has been held in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison awaiting trial.
The Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s family, which also controls Mr. Carlson’s former employer, Fox News. “We are encouraged by Russia’s desire to reach an agreement that would bring Evan home, and we hope this will lead to his rapid release and return to his family and to our newsroom,” the statement said Thursday. newspaper in a press release after the article was published. Interview with Putin.
Last month, Mr. Gershkovich, who formerly worked for the New York Times as a press assistant, was order remain in prison until at least March 30, this is the fourth time his detention has been extended. Russian authorities have indicated they may be open to a prisoner exchange in his favor, but only after a verdict in his case.
In December, Times correspondent Valerie Hopkins request Mr Putin at a press conference on Mr Gershkovich’s case. The Russian leader responded only vaguely. “We want to reach an agreement, but it must be mutually acceptable to both parties,” he said, adding: “I hope we find a solution.”
In Thursday’s interview, Mr. Putin offered a similarly vague response to Mr. Carlson. “I do not exclude that the person you are talking about, Mr. Gershkovich, could return to his homeland,” Mr. Putin said. “But we have to reach an agreement.
“I hope you let him out,” Mr. Carlson replied.