The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich and the WikiLeaks publisher are both charged with espionage
If Moscow decides on a prisoner swap involving Evan Gershkovich, it should request Julian Assange’s release from a British dungeon, Russian State Duma Deputy Sergey Obuhkov said on Friday.
Obuhkov, a Russian Communist Party lawmaker, told reporters that some members of the Duma have already proposed offering political asylum to former US President Donald Trump and swapping him for Gershkovich.
“I say, let’s replace him with Assange instead,” Obukhov told RIA Novosti.
Russian authorities arrested Gershkovich in Yekaterinburg on March 30, saying they caught him “in the act” of espionage. A court in Lefortovo has ordered the Moscow bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal to remain in custody for two months. He is appealing the decision and will face the judges again on April 18.
Earlier this week, the New York District Attorney had the 45th US President arrested accused of improper business accounting allegedly related to “hush money” paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels, which they allege somehow improperly influenced the 2016 presidential election. Trump has denounced the allegations as a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison in south London since April 2019, after Ecuador suspended his asylum under pressure from the United States. He had spent nearly seven years in the Latin American country’s embassy, seeking protection from falsified Swedish accusations that he called a front for US persecution.
After his arrest, Washington unsealed a year-old indictment charging the WikiLeaks publisher under the Espionage Act. He is wanted for the 2010 release of the infamous “Collateral Murder” video showing the US military killing civilians, as well as other classified US documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If Assange is extradited and convicted, he risks up to 175 years behind bars.
Russia and the USA last exchanged prisoners in December, when Moscow released convicted drug trafficker and basketball star Brittney Griner in exchange for businessman Viktor Bout. Washington has faced criticism for not seeking the release of Paul Whelan, a retired US Marine serving time in Russia for espionage.