Russia refuses to swap Paul Whelan for Maria Butina

Russia refuses to swap Paul Whelan for Maria Butina
Paul Whelan

The FSB reported about the detention of Paul Whelan in Moscow at the end of December 2018.

Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said that Paul Whelan, who had been detained in Russia, was charged with espionage. He is currently being held in the Lefortovo detention center, RIA Novosti said.

Zakharova stressed that exchanging Whelan for the Russian citizens arrested abroad, including Maria Butina, was out of the question. “At the present stage, we have not talked about exchanging Paul Whelan for someone held in custody abroad. There are a lot of materials on the subject (in the media); there are also assumptions, bold speculations and fake news but what I voiced right now is Russia’s official position,” Zakharova noted.

The FSB reported about the detention of Paul Whelan in Moscow at the end of December 2018.

The authorities pointed out that the foreigner had been captured "on a spy mission." Details of the case were not disclosed. Paul Whelan is known to have three citizenships: American, British and Irish. According to media reports, the detainee is a former marine and was in Moscow for a wedding.

On January 9, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow never uses people as pawns in a diplomatic game in an answer to the question whether an exchange of Whelan for Maria Butina arrested in the United States was possible.

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