The US ambassador to Russia was granted access on Monday to jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, the newspaper reported, the second such visit since his pre-trial detention in March on espionage charges he denies.
Tracy met with Gershkovich at Lefortovo Prison in Moscow in what was the first time US Embassy officials were granted consular access since April 17, a State Department spokesperson.
"Ambassador Tracy reports that Mr. Gershkovich is in good health and remains strong, despite his circumstances," the spokesperson added. "We expect Russian authorities to provide continued consular access."
A judge on Thursday rejected an application for Gershkovich, 31, to be released from a Moscow prison while awaiting trial. Ambassador Lynne Tracy has accused Russia of conducting "hostage diplomacy."
Russia has said Gershkovich was caught trying to obtain military secrets while on a trip to the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, but has provided no detail supporting that assertion. The Wall Street Journal denies the allegations.
The State Department repeated the US view that Gershkovich is wrongfully detained and it described the charges against him baseless. It called for the immediate release of Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, a former US Marine serving a 16-year sentence in a Russian penal colony on espionage charges.
The State Department also described Whelan, who was detained in Moscow in 2018, as "wrongfully detained."
High-profile prisoner exchanges with the US
Russia has agreed in the past to high-profile prisoner exchanges with the United States, most recently last year when basketball star Brittney Griner, sentenced on a drugs charge, was traded for convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout.
Moscow has said no exchange could take place in Gershkovich's case until a verdict has been reached. No date has so far been set for his trial.
Relations between Russia and the United States are the lowest for more than 60 years because of Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.