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Inside the Gershkovich Prisoner Swap Crisis

Administration officials say that Moscow appears to be in absolutely no mood to negotiate.
Administration officials say that Moscow appears to be in absolutely no mood to negotiate. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev via Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
May 2, 2023

At Saturday evening’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, President Joe Biden demanded the release of jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is now awaiting trial on espionage charges in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison. From the podium, the president also acknowledged Mikhail Gershkovich and Ella Milman, Evan’s parents, as well as Evan’s sister, Danielle, and her husband, who were guests of the Journal

The president called for the immediate release of Evan and Austin Tice, an American journalist who disappeared into Syrian captivity over a decade ago. The whole room of over 2,000 guests stood and clapped. All weekend, denizens of #thistown wore #freeEvan and “Free Austin Tice” pins on their tuxes and gowns. A smiling, short-haired Brittney Griner got a special shout-out from the president during the dinner. “I can hardly wait to see you back on the court, kid,” he said, grinning, before reminding her that she had promised him and his granddaughter tickets to her first game back. “I got you, I got you,” Griner responded amid the din of applause.