NATIONAL NEWS

US makes offer to bring home jailed Americans Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich. Russia rejected it

Dec 5, 2023, 11:52 AM | Updated: 12:22 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has made a new and significant offer aimed at securing the release of American detainees Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich, but Russia has rejected the offer, the State Department said Tuesday.

Spokesman Matthew Miller did not reveal the details of the offer nor why Russia had turned it down, but the revelation of the proposal was a fresh indication that Washington is continuing to try to negotiate with Moscow to get both men home.

“This was a new proposal, in recent weeks. It was a significant proposal,” Miller said. “And it was rejected by the Russians but it does not, it will not deter us from continuing to do everything we can to try and bring both of them home.”

The U.S. government has declared both Whelan and Gershkovich to be wrongfully detained.

Whelan, a corporate security executive from Michigan, has been jailed in Russia since his December 2018 arrest on espionage-related charges that both he and the U.S. government dispute. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison,

Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was detained in March while on a reporting trip to the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) east of Moscow.

Gershkovich and the Journal deny the allegations, and Russian authorities haven’t detailed any evidence to support the espionage charges. A Russian court last week extended the detention until Jan. 30.

“They never should have been arrested in the first place. They should be released immediately,” Miller said. “But we have made a number of proposals and including a substantial one in recent weeks and we will continue to work every day to bring Evan and Paul Whelan home. There is no prior higher priority for the Secretary of State. There is no higher priority for the president.”

In July 2022, Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed that the U.S. had made a substantial proposal to Moscow to get home WNBA star Brittney Griner and Whelan. Griner was ultimately released in December in a prisoner swap with notorious Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, but Whelan was not part of the deal.

National News

House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., speaks at his weekly press conference on Capito...

Associated Press

Black lawmakers are standing by Biden at a crucial moment. But some express concern

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Congressional Black Caucus prides itself on its authority among Democrats and its influence with President Joe Biden in particular. So far, only one of its roughly 60 members have joined calls for Biden to drop his reelection bid due to concerns over his age and ability to win. But the caucus’ […]

15 minutes ago

FILE - Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg speaks to reporter during a news conference, May 23, 2024, ...

Associated Press

Man pleads guilty to federal charges in attack on Louisville mayoral candidate

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A man accused of shooting at Louisville’s current mayor when he was a candidate in 2022 pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges stemming from the attack. Quintez Brown pleaded guilty to interference with federally protected activities and discharge of a firearm during a violent crime. The courthouse was a short drive […]

20 minutes ago

Associated Press

Mississippi’s new Episcopal bishop is first woman and first Black person in that role

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi is being formally installed Saturday, and she is first woman and first Black person to hold the post. The Rev. Dorothy Sanders Wells was elected bishop in February and has been in the leadership role since May. She is being ordained and […]

32 minutes ago

Associated Press

Tennessee will remove HIV-positive people convicted of sex work from violent sex offender list

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — HIV-positive people who were convicted in Tennessee of sex work under a decades-old aggravated prostitution law will no longer be required to face a lifetime registration as a “violent sex offender” under a lawsuit settlement finalized this week. Last year, LGBTQ+ and civil rights advocates filed a federal lawsuit challenging the […]

50 minutes ago

Associated Press

California judge halts hearing in fight between state agricultural giant and farmworkers’ union

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A California judge has temporarily blocked a hearing from taking place in a dispute between one of the state’s most influential agricultural companies and the country’s biggest farmworkers’ union. Kern County Superior Court Judge Bernard C. Barmann Jr. issued a preliminary injunction late Thursday halting the hearing and a push by […]

50 minutes ago

Associated Press

A man kills a grizzly bear in Montana after it attacks while he is picking berries

A man picking huckleberries in Montana shot and killed a grizzly bear after it attacked and injured him badly enough that he had to be hospitalized. The 72-year-old man was alone when the adult female charged him Thursday. He killed the bear with a handgun, according to a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks statement Friday. […]

1 hour ago

US makes offer to bring home jailed Americans Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich. Russia rejected it