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Russia dismisses reports of prisoner swap with US

MOSCOW (AP) – Russia’s Foreign Ministry has dismissed suggestions that an American arrested in Moscow on suspicion of spying could be used in a prisoner swap for a Russian held in the United States.

Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested in Moscow last month on suspicion of spying. Whelan’s arrest raised speculation that he could be swapped for one of the Russians held in the U.S. such as gun rights activist Maria Butina, who has pleaded guilty to acting as a foreign agent in the U.S.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters Friday that “there is no talk” about the swap and dismissed the reports as “fake.”

Zakharova also said that Russia would allow diplomats from Britain, Ireland and Canada to visit Whelan, who holds four citizenships.

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