Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) went on Fox News today to discuss Russian detainment of the American Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich.
Gershkovich is the son of Russian (then Soviet) parents who fled Communist rule to live in New Jersey.
He now faces a prison sentence up to 20 years for espionage. According to the news outlet, this is the first time an espionage case has been brought to an overseas reporter since the Cold War.
Rep. Mast stated that “it’s not hard to see the playbook here” when referring to how Russia will attempt to use leverage based on the precedent set by the Brittney Griner – Viktor Bout prisoner exchange.
It’s not hard to see the playbook here. Putin is detaining a Wall Street Journal reporter in order to get leverage over the U.S.
Think about it: Biden traded the “Merchant of Death” for a WNBA player who was arrested on a pot charge.
— Rep. Brian Mast (@RepBrianMast) April 11, 2023
“It’s not hard to see the playbook here. Putin is detaining a Wall Street Journal reporter in order to get leverage over the U.S. Think about it: Biden traded the “Merchant of Death” for a WNBA player who was arrested on a pot charge,” stated Rep. Mast.
Within the interview, Mast did offer some optimism concerning a bipartisan to bring the reporter home.
“I believe fully that Antony Blinken, as much as he and I have disagreed on many things, we see each other on committee often, I believe they’re working through the official processes of doing this.”
He would go on to mention that because of the precedent set by the Griner exchange, the Biden administration's has "hands are tied."
“Here’s where their hands are tied behind their back. Russia is looking at this and saying, ‘Well, if the United States of America was willing to give up what everybody called the “merchant of death,” a top arms dealer for Russia, or a WNBA player on a pot charge, what are they willing to give up for a Wall Street Journal reported charged with espionage facing decades in prison or possibly even death?”
“That’s where the United States of America is in a very tough negotiating situation because of what was done previously, in my opinion,” Mast concluded.
Following the news of his arrest, the Biden administration stated that Gershkovich’s freedom is a priority.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told the media that “These charges are ridiculous. Evan is not a spy.”
The United States will be tested to bring an American home once again.