Russia dismisses studies of prisoner swap with US

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WJ Wire

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s Overseas Ministry on Friday dismissed recommendations that an American arrested in Moscow on suspicion of spying may very well be utilized in a prisoner swap for a Russian held in america.

Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested in Moscow final month on suspicion of espionage. Whelan’s arrest raised hypothesis that he may very well be swapped for one of many Russians held within the U.S. equivalent to gun rights activist Maria Butina, who has pleaded responsible to appearing as a overseas agent within the U.S.

However Russian Overseas Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated at a briefing that Whelan is accused of espionage and can face trial.

“On the present stage, there isn’t any discuss any type of alternate,” she stated, dismissing a attainable swap as “speculations and fakes.”

Zakharova additionally stated Russia would permit diplomats from Britain, Eire and Canada in addition to the U.S. to go to Whelan, who holds 4 citizenships.

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Yevgeny Yenikeyev, a prisoner rights activist, advised the Interfax information company he visited Moscow’s Lefortovo Jail, the place Whelan is being held. He stated Whelan’s cell was just lately repaired and has scorching water, a bathroom and a TV.

However Yenikeyev stated jail officers didn’t let him or different activists see or discuss to Whelan, saying that authorities stated he doesn’t communicate Russian and so they couldn’t monitor a dialog in English. He stated the activists will attempt to go to Whelan once more.

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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