Putin’s Practice of Taking Hostages
The Wall Street Journal has published an op-ed calling for a tougher response from the US regarding Moscow’s practice of taking Americans hostage and exchanging them for Russians who have committed crimes in the United States. The editorial argues that President Vladimir Putin is responsible for the health and safety of Evan Gershkovich, an American reporter at The Wall Street Journal covering Russia, who was detained by Russian authorities on charges of espionage in March 2023. This marks the first time an American journalist has been detained since the Cold War. The WSJ editorial contends that Putin’s use of hostages is a serious matter, and the Biden administration has a responsibility to seek Gershkovich’s release. The FSB has charged Gershkovich with espionage under article 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, alleging that he was collecting information about one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex, which constitutes a state secret. Sources who met Gershkovich in Yekaterinburg reportedly said that the journalist was interested in recruiting for the Wagner PMC and the attitude towards the war in Ukraine.
The WSJ editorial argues that Putin is using these hostages to exchange them for Russians who have committed crimes in the US, citing the recent exchange of Brittney Griner, a basketball player convicted in Russia on charges of drug smuggling, for Viktor Bout, convicted in the US for arms dealing. The op-ed demands that the US take a strong stance against Putin’s actions by expelling the Russian ambassador to the US and all Russian journalists working in the country. The editorial asserts that too many governments believe they can arrest and imprison Americans with impunity, and the US government must protect its citizens. The WSJ recalls that the recent prisoner exchange was widely seen as beneficial to Moscow, which held Bout in high regard, while President Biden did not press Russia to also release American Paul Whelan. The Kremlin has dismissed the Wall Street Journal’s editorial as “absurd” and stated that there is no justification for expelling Russian journalists from the United States. In his endless arrogance, Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin, insisted that foreign journalists with valid accreditation in Moscow are free to continue their work without restriction. Kremlin´s goat herd Peskov also defended the detention of Gershkovich, claiming that he was caught in the act, although the Russian authorities have yet to provide any evidence or explanation to support this claim. Peskov criticized the Wall Street Journal’s call for the expulsion of Russian journalists, stating that restricting the rights of conscientious journalists would be both absurd and wrong.
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