Lawyer for accused US spy proposes prisoner swap with Russia

Lawyer for accused US spy proposes prisoner swap with Russia
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The Russian lawyer for an accused U.S. spy proposed a prisoner swap with Russia Tuesday to return the alleged spy back to the U.S., Reuters reported.

Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested last December for espionage, which he said was a setup. Whelan owns passports for the U.S., Britain, Canada and Ireland, and his lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov said he has met with the four countries’ ambassadors.

“Paul is a citizen of four countries. None of them has asked to organize his exchange yet. Take the initiative, gentlemen!” Zherebenkov said, according to Reuters.

The swap would occur after Whelan’s trial, which has not started. But Zherebenkov said the investigation has been conducted and defense lawyers are reviewing the case, according to the news service.

A Russian court recently ruled Whelan could not be released pending trial, keeping him in custody until Dec. 29, Reuters reported. He was not present at this hearing, instead appearing by video while holding a paper with an unreadable message.

Last year, Whelan was arrested after a Russian acquaintance gave him a flash drive which he said he thought contained holiday pictures, but actually had classified information.