The United States said Tuesday that it had made a “significant proposal” to secure the release of two “wrongfully detained” Americans, namely Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, but it was rejected by Russia.
Mr. Gershkovich is a Wall Street Journal reporter, while Mr. Whelan is a former U.S. Marine who worked as a corporate security executive in Michigan. Both were detained in Russia on espionage charges.
Mr. Miller declined to provide specific details about the proposal, but he clarified that it was solely intended to secure the release of Mr. Whelan and Mr. Gershkovich and not any other detainees.
“That proposal was rejected by Russia. [We] shouldn’t have to make these proposals; they never should have been arrested in the first place. They should both be released immediately,” Mr. Miller said. “But we have made a number of proposals … including a substantial one in recent weeks. ”
Mr. Miller said the Biden administration would continue “to do everything we can to try and bring both of them home,” including discussing this issue with allies who can help secure their release.
“Not a week goes by without intense activity to bring Paul and Evan home,” he said.
Mr. Whelan holds U.S., British, Irish, and Canadian citizenship. After a bad-conduct discharge from the Marine Corps in 2008, he went to work as a corporate security executive for a Michigan-based international auto parts manufacturer.
He was traveling in Moscow in December 2018 when he was detained by Russian authorities on espionage charges. Mr. Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in prison after being convicted in a Russian court in July 2020.
Mr. Gershkovich has been in detention since the end of March when he was apprehended in Yekaterinburg, nearly 1,200 miles east of Moscow, while on a reporting assignment.
He faces allegations of espionage on behalf of the United States, specifically that he allegedly “collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.”
Both Mr. Gershkovich and his employer have vehemently denied these allegations, with the U.S. government declaring his detention wrongful. Russian authorities have yet to provide concrete evidence to support the espionage charges.
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