Tucker Carlson Pressures Putin to Release Jailed WSJ Journalist

2024-02-09 13:14:15

Tucker Carlson repeatedly pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to consider freeing jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in an interview published Thursday, receiving a negative response.

Putin told Carlson that he can see Gershkovich one day returning to the United States if Moscow and Washington broker an agreement. Carlson pushed back, contending that the WSJ journalist “is obviously not a spy” and suggesting that “it’s not fair to ask for somebody else in exchange” for Gershkovich.

“I want to ask you directly – if, as a sign of your decency, you would be willing to release [Gershkovich] to us and we’ll bring him back to the United States,” Carlson asked, to which Putin replied, “We have done so many gestures of good will, out of decency, that I think we have run out of them.”

Watch Below (time code — 01:51:06):

“We have never seen anyone reciprocate to us in a similar manner,” Putin continued, adding, “We do not rule out that we can do that if our partners take reciprocal steps.”

“Special services are in contact with one another,” Putin added. “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 by a special services channels. I believe an agreement can be reached.”

Carlson responded by noting that countries catching spies and then exchanging them for their own spies being held captive in other countries has happened for years, but that the situation with Gershkovich is different because he is “obviously not a spy.”

“This stuff has happened for centuries,” Carlson said. “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 this different is [Gershkovich] is obviously not a spy.”

“Maybe he was breaking your law in some way, but he’s not a super spy, and everybody knows that,” Carlson added. “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?”

Carlson then suggested to Putin that “maybe it’s not fair to ask for somebody else in exchange for letting him out,” adding, “Maybe it degrades Russia to do that.”

Putin responded by saying, “You can give different interpretations to what constitutes a spy,” adding, “A person that gets secret information and does so 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 claimed.

“Maybe he did that out of carelessness,” Putin acknowledged, but claimed that even if that’s true, Gershkovich obtaining the information he received nonetheless qualifies as “espionage.”

“He was caught red-handed when he was secretly getting confidential information,” Putin asserted.

Carlson asked Putin if he is suggesting that Gershkovich was “working for the U.S. government or NATO,” or if he was “just a reporter who was given material he wasn’t supposed to have,” and then argued that those two situations “seem like very different things.”

Putin responded by claiming again that the Wall Street Journal reporter was engaging in “espionage,” and then proceeded to tell a story about a Russian “patriot” who is currently being held prisoner “in an allied country of the U.S.”

Putin explained that someone who harbors “patriotic sentiments” for Russia is being held prisoner because they “eliminated” a person who was “laying our soldiers, taken prisoner, on the road and then drove his car over their heads.”

Carlson pushed back, saying, “Yeah, but Evan Gershkovich didn’t do that.”

“I mean, that’s a completely different – he is a 32-year-old newspaper reporter,” Carlson added.

Putin acknowledged that Gershkovich “committed something different,” but claimed, “He’s not just a journalist.”

“I reiterate, he’s a journalist who was secretly getting confidential information,” Putin said. “Yes, it is different, but still.”

The Russian president went on to insist, “There is an ongoing dialog between the special services,” adding, “They’re keeping in touch, so let them do their work.”

“I do not rule out that the person you refer to, Mr. Gershkovich, may return to his motherland,” Putin added. “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 perusing,” Putin said. “We are ready to talk. Moreover, the talks are on their way.”

“There have been many examples of these talks crowned with success. This is probably going to be crowned with success as well. But we have to come to an agreement,” Putin added, to which Carlson responded, saying, “I hope you let him out.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and X/Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.



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