Washington Post columnist and Deputy Editorial Page Editor Karen Tumulty said Russia’s detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich occurred because Russian President Vladimir Putin “made a calculation” that Russia’s imprisonment of Brittney Griner “really worked out in their favor.”
In November 2022, Russia and the U.S. committed a prisoner swap, where the U.S. released arms dealer Viktor Bout from prison to obtain Griner from Russia. Griner is a WNBA basketball player, while Bout is an arms dealer convicted in 2011 of conspiring to sell millions of weapons to a Colombian terrorist organization.
According to Time, Russia’s secret service, the Federal Security Service (FSB), arrested Gershkovich on espionage charges. Gershkovich has reported about Russia, including the country’s deteriorating economy.
Evan Gershkovich, a Moscow-based Wall Street Journal reporter, was arrested in Russia last week. In interviews, his friends said reporting in Russia was his dream job — he was cleareyed about the risks, but had a love for the country and its people. https://t.co/VYSqPgwTxB
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 2, 2023
In an interview with “PBS NewsHour” host Amna Narwaz, Tumulty spoke about the political implications of former President Donald Trump’s indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Bragg indicted Trump for a series of “hush money” payments the former president allegedly made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
Toward the end of the interview, Narwaz discussed Russia’s arrest of Gershkokich., shifting the conversation to the 2022 prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russia.
Regarding Gershkovich’s detainment, Tumulty said it “speaks to the way [Putin] is treating dissidents and critics in the country.”
“It is appalling because there is absolutely no evidence of espionage. But I do think that he made a calculation that the whole Brittney Griner — the basketball player — situation really worked out in their favor. They released her, and they got a really bad guy back,” she continued.
“So, I just don’t know how the Biden administration handles this, but I think all of us need to keep attention on this and to continue to demand, as loud as we can, that he be released, because there is no evidence of espionage,” she added.
The prisoner swap between Russia and the U.S. was a miscalculation on behalf of the Biden administration. Giving Russia a notorious arms dealer, a valuable “asset” for them, for a WNBA basketball player, is nonsensical. As Tumulty explained, the trade “really worked out” in Russia’s favor.