The U.S. on Tuesday said Russia rejected a “significant proposal” that would have freed two detained Americans, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and former Marine Paul Whelan.
State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in recent weeks the U.S. “made a new and significant proposal to secure Paul and Evan’s release.”
“That proposal was rejected by Russia,” Miller said at a press briefing. “This was not a case of them not having responded to us. They rejected the offer that was on the table.”
Miller declined to speak on the details of the proposal, but added that Moscow’s refusal “will not deter us from continuing to do everything we can to try and bring both of them home.”
He added the State Department has “pressed the importance of this case through a number of channels” and “made a number of proposals” to bring the detained Americans home, all to no avail.
Whelan was arrested by Russian authorities in 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in prison, accused of espionage. The U.S. considers him wrongfully detained.
The former U.S. Marine is being held in a Russian prison labor camp, where he was attacked by another inmate last week.
Gershkovich was arrested in March, also accused of espionage, and recently passed 250 days in pre-trial detention on Monday. The U.S. also considers Gershkovich wrongfully detained.
He was the first American journalist to be detained in Russia since the Cold War, and arrest came as U.S.-Russia tensions have skyrocketed amid the war in Ukraine.
In October, Russia arrested Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty editor Alsu Kurmasheva, who is Russian-American. Kurmasheva was detained for failing to register as a foreign agent.
The U.S. has yet to label her wrongfully detained but is continuing to look at her case, according to the State Department.