The Biden administration confirmed Tuesday that Russia rejected its latest offer to release detained United States citizens Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan.
Department of State spokesman Matthew Miller declined to go into detail but told reporters that the U.S. offer was "significant."
"We shouldn't have to make these proposals. They never should have been arrested in the first place. They should both be released immediately," Miller said. "It will not deter us from continuing to do everything we can to try and bring both of them home."
"There is no higher priority for the Secretary of State. There is no higher priority for the president," he added.
The Wall Street Journal later reported that anonymous sources said the offer would have been a prisoner swap between both countries.
U.S. officials have declared that Gershkovich and Whelan are wrongfully detained.
Gershkovich is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal who was arrested by Russian authorities in Yekaterinburg earlier this year. He faces espionage charges of up to 20 years in prison and has denied the claims.
Last week, a Russian court extended Gershkovich's detention until Jan. 30, 2024.
Whelan, a corporate security executive from Michigan, was arrested in 2018 and convicted of espionage two years later, receiving a 16-year sentence. Both he and the U.S. have denied that he is a spy.
The U.S. most recently facilitated a prisoner swap with Russia in July 2022, sending notorious Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout back to his home country for women's basketball player Brittney Griner.
Luca Cacciatore ✉
Luca Cacciatore, a Newsmax general assignment writer, is based in Arlington, Virginia, reporting on news and politics.
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