US Considers Exchanging Russians for Americans Arrested in Russia, According to Reports
The United States is considering the possibility of using Russians detained in other countries as part of an exchange for Americans arrested in Russia, reports the Wall Street Journal, citing US officials.
According to the publication, US officials have stated that they are engaging with countries holding Russian citizens and are prepared to include such prisoners in a deal aimed at securing the release of Americans detained in Russia. One of those mentioned in the report is Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.
The article notes that this could include individuals like Sergei Cherkasov, who is serving a sentence in Brazil on charges of espionage and fraud, as well as Mikhail Mikushin, who was detained in Norway on suspicion of illegal intelligence activities. It was previously reported that both detainees held Brazilian citizenship.
Cherkasov was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Brazil in 2022. According to media reports, the US requested his extradition from Brazil. In March, the US Department of Justice indicted Cherkasov in absentia. Washington suspects that the Russian, using the identity of a Brazilian named Victor Muller Ferreira, acted as "an agent of a foreign government" in the United States and engaged in fraud using visas, banking, and electronic means. In the fall of 2022, Norwegian broadcasting company NRK reported the arrest of Jose Assis Jammari, who holds Brazilian citizenship, by Norwegian authorities, claiming that he is the Russian citizen Mikhail Valerievich Mikushin, according to the country's security police. Norwegian intelligence accuses him of illegal intelligence activities and collecting data on behalf of the Russian authorities.
On March 30, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) announced that Gershkovich had been detained in Yekaterinburg on suspicion of espionage in the interests of the US government. According to the Russian intelligence agency, the American journalist was gathering information constituting state secrets "about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex." In late March, the Lefortovo District Court in Moscow ordered the journalist's arrest for two months. At the end of May, the Lefortovo District Court extended Gershkovich's detention until August 30. Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for the Russian president, stated that Gershkovich was caught in the act. Maria Zakharova, the official spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emphasized that Gershkovich's activities in Yekaterinburg "have nothing to do with journalism."