U.S. ‘very stridently’ asking Russia for better access to detained reporter Evan Gershkovich, White House says

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White House spokesman John Kirby on Wednesday said U.S. officials are continuing to push Russia for more access to detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, as he also addressed how Moscow released American basketball star Brittney Griner but continues to hold Gershkovich and businessman Paul Whelan.

“We’ve been able to have some consular access in keeping with the milestones of the so-called judicial process there, but we haven’t had regular access to him such as we require, so we are definitely making that case very, very stridently with Russian officials,” said Kirby in a MarketWatch interview that was broadcast live.

Gershkovich made an appearance in a Moscow courtroom last week for an appeal hearing, with the court ruling that he must remain in jail on espionage charges until at least late August, rejecting his appeal to be released. After the hearing, the U.S. embassy in Moscow said in a statement that Russia has denied requests for formal consular access on three occasions.

The Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch are both published by Dow Jones, which is owned by News Corp.

The Journal has said it “vehemently denies the allegations” from Russia and called for Gershkovich’s immediate release.

In commenting on other Americans detained in Russia, Kirby emphasized that each case is unique.

“Even in a specific country, each case is different. We were able to get Brittney Griner home from Russia, but we were not able to get Paul because they treated Paul differently,” said Kirby, the strategic-communications coordinator for President Joe Biden’s National Security Council, referring to Whelan.

“Brittney was convicted on drug charges. They convicted Paul on espionage charges, so they didn’t consider them at the same level.”

Regarding Gershkovich and Whelan, Kirby said: “You’ve got to keep having those discussions and working out options individually to get these gentlemen home, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”

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