Russia says it won’t swop Wall Street Journal reporter before trial

MOSCOW – Moscow would consider swopping a Wall Street Journal reporter jailed for spying last month for a Russian prisoner held by the US, but only after the American is convicted, a senior official said.

“The question of swopping anyone can be discussed after the court properly issues its verdict on the charges,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, according to Tass. 

He reiterated the US and Russia have a special diplomatic channel for such negotiations.

In March, Russia charged the Wall Street Journal’s American correspondent Evan Gershkovich with spying, in a case certain to worsen Moscow’s diplomatic feud with Washington over the war in Ukraine and likely to further isolate Russia. The Wall Street Journal denies the spying allegations.

No trial date has yet been set. If convicted, Mr Gershkovich faces a prison term of up to 20 years.

The US has categorised Mr Gershkovich as wrongfully detained, easing government participation in potential talks on his release. Russia has not yet allowed US diplomats to visit him in jail. BLOOMBERG

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