Putin explained his government’s rationale for detaining Gershkovich,
who was arrested in Russia on espionage charges in March 2023. The journalist was “caught red-handed” while obtaining confidential information, the Kremlin leader said.
“The person gets secret information and does that in a conspiratorial manner, then this is qualified as espionage. And that is exactly what he was doing. He was receiving classified confidential information,” Putin said.
Moscow has provided no evidence that Gershkovich was spying on Russia during his time in the country. The Wall Street Journal has denied that Gershkovich was spying, and the Biden administration
has called for his release.
Putin stressed that Gershkovich didn’t have to be a spy to run afoul of Russia’s espionage rules: “He’s not just a journalist, I reiterate, he’s a journalist who was secretly getting confidential information.”
The Kremlin leader added that there’s an “ongoing dialogue” for Gershkovich’s release and said it “doesn’t make any sense to keep him in prison in Russia … we are ready to talk, moreover, the talks are on their way.”
Gershkovich’s detention continues a string of Americans jailed in Russia since the war with Ukraine began, most notably with WNBA player
Brittney Griner’s detention on drug charges in 2022. She was released in an exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout almost a year later.