US: American jailed in Russia should be freed, not swapped

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MOSCOW (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in Moscow says it won’t be looking for a prisoner swap with Russia for an American jailed on spying charges.

Instead, it said Wednesday that Paul Whelan should be released immediately as there is no evidence against him.

Last week, Whelan’s lawyer urged the U.S. and the other countries Whelan holds nationality with to seek a prisoner exchange with Russia once the trial is concluded. The trial is expected to take place early next year.

The Embassy’s Julie Fisher told reporters that “there’s no need to discuss a swap.” There is, she added, “no evidence, no crime.”

Whelan, who also holds British, Irish and Canadian citizenship, was arrested in Moscow last December and charged with espionage, which carries up to 20 years in prison.

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