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Russia Rejects U.S. Offer to Release Detained Americans

Ex-US Marine Paul Whelan Emerges in Video After Three Year Hiatus: Russian State-Funded Media Reveals Footage of Him Inside Prison Penal Colony (Photo: ABC News)

Ex-US Marine Paul Whelan Emerges in Video After Three Year Hiatus: Russian State-Funded Media Reveals Footage of Him Inside Prison Penal Colony (Photo: ABC News)

Russia turned down an “important proposal” from the US to free two Americans who are being held: Wall Street Journal writer Evan Gershkovich and former Marine Paul Whelan. This was a diplomatic setback. Matthew Miller, a spokesman for the State Department, made the news at a press conference on Tuesday.

Miller said that in the past few weeks, the U.S. had made a new, more pressing offer to help get Paul and Evan liberated. However, Moscow simply turned down the offer, which made it harder for diplomats to bring the two people back home. Miller wouldn’t go into specifics about the plan, but he did say that Russia’s refusal would not stop the U.S. from pursuing its efforts to get the Americans liberated.

The State Department spokesman acknowledged that the U.S. had made several suggestions and used a variety of tactics to emphasize how important the case was, but the Russian government had rejected all of them. A former U.S. Marine named Paul Whelan has been in Russian custody since 2018. He is being held on spying charges and could face 16 years in jail. The U.S. says that he is being held illegally. Recent news stories also talk about an attack on Whelan by another prisoner in a Russian work camp.

A writer for the Wall Street Journal, Evan Gershkovich, was taken into custody in March and convicted of spying. He has been in pre-trial detention for more than 250 days. The conviction of Gershkovich has been of big concern since he was the first American reporter to be held in Russia since the end of the Cold War. Because of the war in Ukraine, disputes between the US and Russia have escalated, making these kinds of cases more difficult.

Additionally, Russia arrested Alsu Kurmasheva, an editor at Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty, in October. At this point, the U.S. has not been accused of wrongly detaining her, but the State Department is still looking into her case because emotions are still high.

It’s clear that international negotiations between the two nations aren’t going well, causing the rejection of the U.S. plan. The fate of Gershkovich and Whelan is still uncertain, as their families and the U.S. government continue to look for ways to free them.

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