Rus­sia of­fi­cial: It’s too early to con­sider swap of spy sus­pect

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Nation & World -

MOSCOW — Rus­sia’s deputy for­eign min­is­ter brushed back sug­ges­tions Satur­day that an Amer­i­can be­ing held in Moscow on sus­pi­cion of spy­ing could be ex­changed for a Rus­sian cit­i­zen.

Paul Whe­lan, a former U.S. Ma­rine, who also holds Cana­dian, Bri­tish and Ir­ish cit­i­zen­ship, was de­tained in Moscow in late De­cem­ber. His ar­rest has led to spec­u­la­tion that Rus­sia could be us­ing him to bar­gain for a Rus­sian who pleaded guilty to act­ing as a for­eign agent in the United States.

But Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Ryabkov said that dis­cussing a pos­si­ble swap in­volv­ing Whe­lan and Maria Butina would be pre­ma­ture be­cause Whe­lan hasn’t been for­mally charged.

Some Rus­sian news re­ports ear­lier cited un­named sources as say­ing Whe­lan had been in­dicted on es­pi­onage charges.

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