Russia does not see any reason to exchange the US citizen Paul Whelan, who is facing charges of espionage in Russia, for Russians arrested in other countries, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Interfax in a comment.
“It should be pointed out that the situation with Paul Whelan, a citizen of the US and a number of other countries, is developing in strict accordance with the requirements of our legislation, and also in accordance with our obligations of a bilateral nature, which concern the provision of consular access to a citizen of the mentioned countries,” Ryabkov commented.
He said that there is no reason to ask questions about a possible prisoner swap.
Ireland recently also claimed Paul Whelan as one of its citizens.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US demands Whelan’s immediate release and an explanation of why he was arrested.
At the end of December 2018, Russia’s FSB announced that Whelan had been arrested “while carrying out acts of espionage”. The US citizen has been charged with espionage, and is facing 10 to 20 years of prison in Russia.
Whelan’s relatives deny that he was involved in intelligence activities, and claim that he went to Moscow for a friend’s wedding. The Washington Post reported earlier that Whelan speaks Russian, and has been visiting the country regularly since 2007.
According to various media reports, 48 year-old Paul works for the American car part manufacturer BorgWarner as the director of security. He is also reportedly a retired marine, who took part twice in the military campaign in Iraq, but was dismissed from the US Armed Forces for stealing.