During his bombshell interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, independent journalist Tucker Carlson was able to get Putin to acknowledge that a deal could be made to release imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.
Carlson questioned Putin about Gershkovich at the very end of the more than two-hour interview, lobbying the Russian president to release the 32-year-old reporter “as a sign of decency.” However, Putin claimed that Russia had made many efforts of “goodwill out of decency” and they are tired of those actions not being reciprocated — though he did confirm that the Russian government was in talks with the U.S. to negotiate Gershkovich’s release.
“We have done so many gestures of goodwill out of decency that I think we have run out of them,” Putin responded. “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. 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.”
The Russian president then made his case for Gershkovich’s imprisonment, arguing that the reporter had obtained “secret information” through a “conspiratorial manner” — meaning that he believes the reporter was acting more as a spy than a journalist.
“And that is exactly what he was doing,” Putin asserted. “He was receiving classified, confidential information, and he did it covertly. Maybe he did that out of carelessness or his own initiative. Considering the sheer fact that this [qualifies as] espionage. The fact has been proven as he was caught red-handed when he was receiving this information. 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.”
He then claimed that Gershkovich was actually working for U.S. intelligence rather than as a journalist — arguing that he sought to obtain “classified information,” likely from sources within the Russian government, “in secret [which] is called espionage.”
Putin says the WSJ reporter arrested was a journalist but was being directed by US agents to collect top secret information https://t.co/ZU6xiytk64
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) February 9, 2024
Putin went on to attempt to deflect on the issue, bringing up a case of someone being imprisoned in a foreign country — but Carlson pushed back and noted that Putin’s example was “completely different,” as Gershkovich is just a reporter.
“He’s not just a journalist. I reiterate,” Putin said. “He’s a journalist who is secretly getting confidential information.”
“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,” he added. “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.”
Carlson concluded the conversation by telling Putin, “I hope you let him out.”
Tucker asks Putin about jailed WSJ journalist pic.twitter.com/SjPMutFJBP
— Tucker Carlson Network (@TCNetwork) February 8, 2024