Putin tells Tucker Carlson he is willing to release WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich under “certain terms”

In an extensive interview, the American presenter questioned the Russian leader on various topics, including the situation of the reporter who has been behind bars in Russia for almost a year.

Is Vladimir Putin willing to release Evan Gershkovich? According to the Russian leader, the answer is yes, but only under “certain terms.”

Near the end of an extensive interview, in which Vladimir Putin took more than half the time to talk about Russian history and his position on the war in Ukraine, the presenter, Tucker Carlson, finally asked the president directly if he was willing to release The Wall Street Journal reporter, who has been behind bars in Russian territory for almost a year.

After several answers and follow-up questions, Putin’s position was not entirely clear, but he left open the possibility of Gershkovich returning home.

“I appreciate all the time you’ve given us. I just gotta ask you one last question. And that’s about someone who is very famous in the United States. Probably not here. Evan Gershkovich, who’s the Wall Street Journal reporter. He’s 32. And he’s been in prison for almost a year. This is a huge story in the United States. And I just want to ask you directly, without getting into the details of it or your version of what happened, if, as a sign of your decency, you would be willing to release him to us and we’ll bring him back to the United States,” Carlson asked Putin.

Putin’s response, at first, was hesitant.

“We have done so many gestures of goodwill out of decency that I think we have run out of them. We have never seen anyone reciprocate to us in a similar manner. However, in theory, we can say that we do not rule out that we can do that if our partners take reciprocal steps,” Putin began. “When I talk about the partners, I first of all refer to special services. Special services are in contact with one another. They are talking about the matter in question. There is no taboo to settle this issue. We are willing to solve it, but there are certain terms being discussed via special services channels. I believe an agreement can be reached.”

But Tucker insisted, highlighting that Gershkovich is not an American spy, as Russia claims, but rather a journalist who received information and was doing his job.

“So typically, I mean this stuff has happened for obviously centuries. One country catches another spy within its borders. It trades it for one of its own intel guys in another country. I think what makes and it’s not my business, but what makes this different is the guy’s obviously not a spy,” Carlson replied. “He’s a kid, and maybe he was breaking your law in some way, but he’s not a super spy and everybody knows that. And he’s being held hostage in exchange, which is true with respect. It’s true. And everyone knows it’s true. So maybe he’s in a different category. Maybe it’s not fair to ask for, you know, somebody else in exchange for letting him out. Maybe it degrades Russia to do that.”

Putin tells Tucker Carlson he is willing to release WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich under “certain terms”
Vladimir Putin during his conversation with Tucker Carlson. (Capture)

Putin, on the other hand, responded to Carlson by telling him that there are different meanings of what a spy is, suggesting that, under Russian law, Gershkovich was carrying out espionage tasks. The American presenter refuted this answer again.

“You know, you can give a different interpretations to what constitutes a spy. But there are certain things provided by law. If a person gets secret information and does that in a conspiratorial manner, then this is qualified as espionage. And that is exactly what he was doing. He was receiving classified, confidential information, and he did it covertly,” Putin said. “If it had been some farfetched excuse, some fabrication, something not proven, it would have been a different story then. But he was caught red-handed when he was secretly getting confidential information. What is it then?”

“But are you suggesting he was working for the U.S. government or NATO, or he was just a reporter who was given material he wasn’t supposed to have?” Carlson asked. “Those seem like very different, very different things.”

“I don’t know who he was working for. But I would like to reiterate that getting classified information in secret is called espionage. And he was working for the U.S. special services, some other agencies,” Putin continued.

But Tucker once again insisted that Gershkovich is not a spy: “I mean, that’s completely different. He’s a 32-year-old newspaper reporter.”

At the end of the interview, Putin clarified a bit and restated that work can be done to get Gershkovich back to the United States, adding, “I also want him to return to his homeland at last.”

“I do not rule out that the person you refer to, Mr. Gershkovich, may return to his motherland. But at the end of the day, it does not make any sense to keep him in prison in Russia. We want the U.S. Special Services to think about how they can contribute to achieving the goals our special services are pursuing. We are ready to talk. Moreover, the talks are underway and there have been many successful examples of these talks crowned with success. Probably this is going to be crowned with success as well. But we have to come to an agreement,” Putin commented.