The reports on the negotiation of the exchange of the American convicted of espionage, Paul Whelan, for the Russians imprisoned in the United States do not correspond to reality. This was stated by the director of the consular department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ivan Volynkin on August 25.
“As Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova have already noted, all media reports about the allegedly ongoing negotiations on the exchange of an American convicted of espionage do not correspond to reality at the moment,” he said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
Earlier, on August 17, it was reported that Whelan was transferred from a colony in Mordovia, where he underwent quarantine measures, to a strict regime colony in the village of Ozernoye, Zubovo-Polyansky district of the republic.
Whelan, who also has British citizenship, Canadian and Irish citizenship, was detained during a spy action in Russia in December 2018. A criminal case was opened against him under Art. 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Espionage”).
At the end of May 2020, the prosecutor asked for 18 years in prison for him. In the last word, the foreigner declared his innocence and asked to be acquitted. The defense insisted that the American was a victim of a provocation: he was given a flash drive, which allegedly contained a photo from a tourist trip.
In mid-June, the American was sentenced to 16 years in prison, and in July the Moscow City Court sent an order to the SIZO to carry out the sentence.