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Blinken Urges Russia to Release 2 Detained American Citizens

by Lucas Garcia
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The Secretary of State from the United States, named Antony Blinken, just made a phone call to the Russian diplomat and asked them to free two people quickly. One of those is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal who was arrested last week, and the other person is an American called Paul Whelan who has already been in prison.

In his talk with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, Blinken expressed his worries about the Kremlin’s seizure of journalist Evan Gershkovich over accusations of espionage. He asked for Evan’s instant freedom.

Blinken asked for Whelan to be let go right away, saying that he was unfairly kept in detention. American leaders additionally talked about making a similar decision soon regarding Gershkovich, which would move his situation over to the special division that deals with hostages.

Paul Whelan, a security worker in the U.S. state of Michigan, was jailed in Russia in December 2018 because Russian authorities believe he is a spy, despite his family and U.S. government saying this accusation is false. He has since been given a 16-year prison sentence.

U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken talked with Russian official Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about making sure diplomats can do their jobs safely.

The FSB, which is a special security organization in Russia that is similar to the KGB, said Gershkovich was gathering information about something related to the military. Russian police arrested him last week – this is the first time that a United States reporter was taken into custody and accused of being a spy since the Cold War.

Russia’s government said that in a call, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to obey their orders concerning American journalist David Gershkovich. Russia claims that he did something bad but they have no proof. The newspaper where Gershkovich works has strongly denied Russia’s accusations and demanded his return home. In addition, President Biden said on Friday: “Let him go”.

The Kremlin said they told the U.S. official, Blinken that it is not okay for U.S. officials and Western press to keep talking about the reporter’s arrest in a way that is too political. They also said that his future will be decided by the court instead.

The U.S. government thinks it is wrong that Gershkovich was arrested.

Emma Tucker, the editor-in-chief of a newspaper, said it was great to hear Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call about the reporter because it shows that the United States government is trying its best to help. They have not been able to contact the reporter or get official updates on their situation yet, she said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” show.

U.S. government officials have asked to check up on Gershkovich but they haven’t said if it’s allowed yet. They hope to be able to see him soon and are trying their best to make sure he is not being mistreated in any way. The newspaper is also doing what it can for him, like hoping a lawyer will be able to meet with him this week.

Representative Mike Turner, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has declared that it is now recommended for U.S. citizens to move out of Russia due to their rule-breaking behavior. He said on CNN’s “State of the Union” show that Russia is acting like a country without laws and international norms.

Russian officials are saying that the US and its news media have made a big deal out of their detention of Gershkovich. The Kremlin usually wants these cases to be handled quietly, so they can make sure that all of Russia’s legal process is followed correctly. This means progress in freeing the person won’t happen until after formal charges are filed, a trial done, convicted, sentencing and appeals are done.

Many media organizations and people that support press freedom have written a letter to the Russian ambassador in the US. They are worried because Russia seems to think that reporting inside the country is wrong and should be punished. On Saturday night, Griner (who was held in prison by Russian authorities for 10 months before being released) and her wife Cherelle asked for Gershkovich (a 31-year old person) to also be freed.

A married couple posted a statement on Instagram about how important it is for us to fight for every American who gets taken and celebrate every American who gets returned.

The U.S and Russia have not talked much since 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, though last month the two countries’ top diplomats had a quick chat at the Group of 20 conference in India. This was the first face-to-face talk between them since the war began.

Last summer, Blinken had a phone conversation with Lavrov to discuss an idea from the U.S. that Russia should let go of Whelan and Griner. Even though Whelan wasn’t part of the exchange plan when Griner was released, American officials said they still want to bring Whelan back home.

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