President Joe Biden will promise to free Americans unjustly held overseas — including Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter arrested last month in Moscow — when he speaks at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday.
Biden will “speak to the importance of the First Amendment, how critical press freedom is around the world, and his unwavering commitment to bring home wrongfully detained journalists and other Americans,” an aide told CNN.
Russian officials on Thursday denied the US Embassy’s request to meet with Gershkovich, 31, who was jailed on espionage charges in March.
Gershkovich denied the allegations in a court appearance last week.
The State Department, which has officially determined that Gershkovich has been “wrongfully detained,” has demanded his release.
The black-tie annual gathering of journalists and Washington insiders offers Biden, 80, his first major public platform since he announced his re-election campaign on Tuesday — and a chance to drop some comedic one-liners on an appreciative crowd.
“I’m really excited to be here tonight with the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have,” Biden said as he opened his speech in 2022 — a self-deprecating line he could reprise this year, two days after the Gallup Poll found that just 37% of US adults approve of his job performance, the lowest since the start of his presidency.
The annual event, which raises money for the White House Correspondents’ Association scholarship fund, was held in disdain by former President Donald Trump, who refused to attend it throughout his presidency.