Biden threats to ‘impose costs’ on Putin after US journalist Evan Gershkovich’s one-year long imprisonment

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US President Joe Biden has issued a stern warning to his Russian counterpart that there will be consequences after an American journalist’s wrongful imprisonment ticked over to the one-year mark.

On Saturday, President Biden said he will “impose costs” on Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s “appalling attempts to use Americans as bargaining chips”.

His blistering comments came after Russian authorities arrested Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent Evan Gershkovich at a restaurant on March 29 last year on spy charges.

Since then, the journalist has been surviving in Moscow’s high-security Lefortovo prison and his remand time has just been extended until at least the end of June.

“As I have told Evan’s parents, I will never give up hope either. We will continue working every day to secure his release,” Mr Biden said on Friday local time (Saturday AEDT).

“We will continue to denounce and impose costs for Russia’s appalling attempts to use Americans as bargaining chips,” Mr Biden added.

Mr Gershkovich’s detention is “wholly unjust and illegal”, according to the White House, with the US government, his employer and his family criticising the charges as trumped up and fabricated.

The Kremlin appeared unperturbed by Mr Biden’s threat, sticking to silence when it came to discussing plans to return Evan.

They said they would not be commenting on possible prisoner exchanges involving Mr Gershkovich.

Putin said last month that he would like to see Mr Gershkovich released as part of a prisoner swap.

The US government is of the view that the American citizen was arrested purely to be used as a way for high-profile Russians to be returned back to home soil.

Russia rejected the most recent prisoner exchange offer put forward by the Biden administration, according to US authorities.

It’s the first time a Westerner has been detained on accusations of espionage since the Cold War in a sign of the deteriorating relations between Russia and the US.

Russia claims that the journalist was trying to obtain military secrets, an offence that could see the 32-year-old face up to 20 years in jail if found guilty.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry accredited Mr Gershkovich to work in the country as a journalist, causing his colleagues to label his arrest baffling.

News.com.au previously reported on the horror day when the Wall Street Journal realised their colleague had been wrongfully arrested by the brutal Russian regime.

As a foreign correspondent working in Russia for The Wall Street Journal, Evan had missed two of his required check-ins this time last year.

It sent his bosses into a spin as they jumped to the worst conclusion — and they weren’t wrong.

“We have very strict protocols for foreign correspondents in the field, especially in risky places,” Paul Beckett, the now Assistant Editor of the Journal, told news.com.au earlier this week.

“When he missed two, we knew probably something bad had happened.

“And sure enough, it had.”

Springing into action, Mr Beckett quickly alerted everybody he could think of – the White House National Security Council, the Pentagon and State Department.

Hours later, Russia’s Federal Security Service announced they had arrested Evan and falsely accused him of being a spy.

— With Brielle Burns

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