Trump claimed Putin would free jailed WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich if he's reelected — but the Kremlin says that's news to them

  • Trump claims he alone can secure Evan Gershkovich's release from Russia if reelected.

  • The WSJ reporter has been jailed in Russia on disputed espionage charges since March last year.

  • The Kremlin denies any contact with Trump on the matter.

Donald Trump claimed that only he would be able to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to release Evan Gershkovich, the jailed Wall Street Journal reporter.

Writing on his Truth Social platform, Trump said: "Evan Gershkovich, the Reporter from The Wall Street Journal, who is being held by Russia, will be released almost immediately after the Election, but definitely before I assume Office."


"Vladimir Putin, President of Russia will do that for me, but not for anyone else and WE WILL BE PAYING NOTHING!"

But when asked about the former Republican president's remarks, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitrii Peskov said, "Naturally, Putin has no contacts with Donald Trump," Russian state-run news agency TASS reported.

"As for communication on the issue of persons in custody, convicts, we can state once again what we have repeatedly said, that these talks must be carried out in complete silence and in an absolutely covert manner," the Kremlin spokesman said.

"This is the only way to make them effective."

A spokesperson for Trump's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is escorted from court after a hearing in Moscow
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is escorted from court after a hearing in Moscow, Russia, in January 2024.AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File

Gershkovich, a US citizen, was arrested in Russia in March last year on spying charges that he, his paper and the Biden administration have all strongly denied.

He has spent over a year in Moscow's Lefortovo prison, and no date has been set for his trial.

Gershkovich appealed his arrest in April, but it was denied by the court judge. The court also rejected an offer from The Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones to post a bond of 50,000,000 roubles ($600,000).

"Evan is wrongfully detained, and the charges of espionage against him are false," the leaders of The Journal and Dow Jones said in a statement. "We demand his immediate release and are doing everything in our power to secure it."

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously said the US was "intensely engaged with the Russians" for Gershkovich's release, though he cautioned that there wasn't "a clear way forward."

During an interview with Tucker Carlson in February, Putin said he believed an agreement could be reached, though he reiterated Russia's claim Gershkovich was carrying out espionage.

Other prisoner swaps between Russia and the US have been carried out in recent years, including a deal for basketball star Brittney Griner in 2022 in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Trump and Putin
Trump and Putin shake hands before attending a joint press conference after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018.YURI KADOBNOV/Getty Images

This isn't the first time Trump claimed Russia would release Gershkovich for him. In an interview with Time Magazine, Trump, who has consistently said he and Putin "get along very well," said Gershkovich "should be released and he will be released."

"I don't know if he's going to be released under Biden," Trump said.

During his 2017-2021 presidency, Trump expressed admiration for Putin. In 2018, the former president refused to accuse the Russian leader of meddling in the 2016 US election, going against the findings of US intelligence agencies at the time.

Trump has also made bold claims that he could end the war in Ukraine within 24 hours of returning to the White House, though he has not said how he would do this.

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