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Trump says Putin will free jailed US reporter Gershkovich for him

Trump says Putin will free jailed US reporter Gershkovich for him
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the end of the day during his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, New York, U.S. May 21, 2024. Michael M. Santiago/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

MOSCOW, May 23 (Reuters) - Donald Trump has posted on social media that he will use his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin to get Wall Street reporter Evan Gershkovich freed from a Russian prison.

Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social that this would happen soon after the November election in the United States, when he is seeking to defeat President Joe Biden and return to the White House.

“Evan Gershkovich, the Reporter from The Wall Street Journal, who is being held by Russia, will be released almost immediately after the Election, but definitely before I assume Office. He will be HOME, SAFE, AND WITH HIS FAMILY,” Trump said.

“Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, will do that for me, but not for anyone else, and WE WILL BE PAYING NOTHING!”

Trump did not refer to any contacts with Putin or say what grounds he had to believe that the Russian leader would release Gershkovich.

Asked about the comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin has “naturally not had contacts with Donald Trump”.

Gershkovich was arrested in Russia in March last year on spying charges that he, his paper and the Biden administration have all strongly denied. He has spent well over a year in a Moscow prison, with no date set for a trial.

Putin said in February it might be possible to free him in exchange for a Russian imprisoned in Germany for murder.

Peskov reiterated previous Kremlin statements that contacts with Washington regarding any exchange of prisoners must be conducted “in complete silence and absolutely discreetly. This is the only way they can be effective”.

During his 2017-2021 presidency, Trump expressed admiration for Putin. In 2018, he refused to blame the Russian leader for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, casting doubt on the findings of his own intelligence agencies and sparking criticism at home.

Trump has also claimed he could end the war in Ukraine within 24 hours of returning to the White House, though he has not said how he would do this.

(Reporting by Reuters, writing by Mark Trevelyan and Alexander Marrow Editing by Gareth Jones)

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