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Russia says talk of spy swap with former U.S. marine is false

Reuters logo Reuters 1/11/2019
a man standing in front of a body of water posing for the camera: Paul Whelan appears in a photo provided by the Whelan family © Reuters/HANDOUT Paul Whelan appears in a photo provided by the Whelan family

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday that there were no discussions about setting up a possible spy swap involving former U.S. marine Paul Whelan, calling speculation about such a deal fake news.

Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine who also holds British, Canadian and Irish passports, was detained by Russia's Federal Security Service on Dec. 28 and accused of espionage. His family have said he is innocent and that he was in Moscow to attend a wedding.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, said diplomats from Britain, Canada and Ireland would get access to Whelan in what she called the agreed time frame.

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh and Andrew Osborn; Editing by Tom Balmforth)

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