Russia: There’re no talks on setting up spy swap involving Paul Whelan

Russia to let Canadian diplomats visit detained former U.S. marine

Whelan was charged under Article 276 of Russia's criminal code, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters at a televised briefing.

"In this regard, establishing dialogue between the Kurds and Damascus takes on particular significance".

Mr Whelan - a former United States marine born in Canada to British parents, and who now lives in MI - was taken into custody at the end of last month and could face 20 years in jail if convicted of spying. According to media reports, the detainee is a former marine and was in Moscow for a wedding.

"The minister has arrived in Moscow", Tass news agency cited a diplomatic source from Japan's embassy in Moscow as saying, without providing further details about the visit.

"The presence of USA forces is illegal in Syria and does not lead to calming the situation but rather to escalating it and supporting terrorist organizations", Zakharova said at a press conference on Friday.

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Russian Federation has still not provided any details of the charge against Whelan.

The foreign ministry spokeswoman also said Friday that exchanging Whelan for anyone imprisoned outside Russian Federation was not being considered.

Zakharova stressed that exchanging Whelan for the Russian citizens arrested overseas, including Maria Butina, was out of the question. "The defendant will stand trial".

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian Federation stated that the news on discussions about a possible spy swap with former US marine Paul Whelan is fake, reports Reuters. She has admitted to trying to infiltrate American conservative political circles.

"The NATO secretary general's statements are just another attempt to cite the imaginary Russian threat in order to cover up things that are clear to everyone - a crisis emerged within the Alliance following the USA decision to pull out of the (INF) Treaty, which is crucial for European and global security", the ministry said in a statement. He noted, however, that Whelan could only be traded once he has been convicted.

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