Brittney Griner Exchange May Have Prompted Gershkovich’s Detainment

Amid the outrage and concern that has followed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s arrest, there have been suggestions that this is a consequence of America’s generosity on the Griner swap.

According to sources familiar with the situation, Gershkovich was detained in Yekaterinburg on Wednesday afternoon while reporting on a story in the country.

The reason for his detention is unclear at this time, but the country has charged him with espionage, an offense punishable by up to 20 years. The 31-year-old would be the first U.S. reporter to be arrested on espionage charges since the Cold War in 1986, per Bloomberg.

Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty condemned Russia’s actions on Friday’s PBS NewsHour and suggested that the detainment of Gershkovich is a clear indication of the way President Vladimir Putin treats “dissidents and critics in the country.”

Tumulty, who is also the outlet’s Deputy Editorial Page Editor, stated that there is absolutely no evidence of espionage and that Putin likely made a calculated decision to detain Gershkovich following the successful prisoner exchange involving American basketball player Brittney Griner.

She recounted that Russia released Griner and obtained a “really bad guy” in return, arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Getting the longer end of the stick, Tumulty believes, must have encouraged Russia’s latest detention of an American citizen as Putin must be nursing hopes of a repeat of such favorable exchange under the less-than-stern hands of President Joe Biden.

In Tumulty’s words: “It is appalling, because there is absolutely no evidence of espionage. But I do think that he made a calculation that the whole Brittney Griner — the basketball player — situation really worked out in their favor. They released her, and they got a really bad guy back.”

While the situation has left many wondering how the Biden administration will handle the situation, Tumulty called for a massive demand for

“So, I just don’t know how the Biden administration handles this, but I think all of us need to keep attention on this and to continue to demand, as loud as we can, that he be released, because there is no evidence of espionage,” she stated.

The Wall Street Journal has issued a statement expressing concern for Gershkovich’s safety and calling for his immediate release. The newspaper also said it is working with authorities in the country to gather more information about the situation and to secure his release.