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Paul Whelan case: Russia rejects possible spy swap, calls reports 'fake news'


Added 01-11-19 03:35:01pm EST - “Russia on Friday denied plans of a spy swap involving Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who was arrested in Moscow last month and accused of espionage.” - Washingtontimes.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Washingtontimes.com: “Paul Whelan case: Russia rejects possible spy swap, calls reports ‘fake news’ ”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Russia on Friday denied plans of a spy swap involving Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who was arrested in Moscow last month and accused of espionage.

“I would like to emphasize that exchanging Paul Whelan for someone held in custody abroad is out of the question at the current stage,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said during a weekly press briefing, state media reported.

“There are numerous reports on that score, there are outright speculations and fake news, but I have now voiced the official Russian stance,” Ms. Zakharova added, according to TASS, a government-owned news outlet.

Mr. Whelan was arrested in Moscow on Dec. 28, 2019, and reports of a possible spy swap have persisted since details about his detainment surfaced the following week, particularly in light of the Kremlin criticizing the recent conviction of Maria Butina, a 30-year-old Russian gun-rights activist who pleaded guilty in D.C. federal court last month to conspiring against the U.S.

President Trump’s ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, visited Mr. Whelan at the Lefortovo Detention Facility in Moscow on Jan. 2 and offered the U.S. Embassy’s assistance, a State Department spokesperson told The Washington Times afterward.

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