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Talks on Paul Whelan’s exchange may resume after Christmas holidays, lawyer believes

According to the lawyer, a new candidacy for Whelan’s exchange may appear

MOSCOW, December 16. /TASS/. The case of exchange of US citizen Paul Whelan, convicted in Russia for espionage, for some Russian citizen, convicted in the US, may "break the current stalemate after the Christmas holidays, says Whelan’s attorney Olga Karlova.

"The talks have stalled so far over the US elections. We hope that this issue will break the stalemate after the Christmas holidays," Karlova told TASS.

According to the lawyer, a new candidacy for Whelan’s exchange may appear.

"As far as I understand, Whelan’s exchange for Viktor Bout or Konstantin Yaroshenko is out of the question at this moment. A new candidacy for exchange appeared, but I cannot name it in order to not harm the negotiations process," she said, adding that the negotiations themselves "go on rather sluggishly."

Another Whelan’s attorney, Vladimir Zherebenkov, also says that a new candidacy for exchange is possible.

"He could be exchanged for a St. Petersburg resident. A cannot say more at the moment," the lawyer said.

According to Zherebenkov, chances for exchange during Trump administration were slim from the start.

"Trump did not want to risk: releasing Russian citizen ahead of the election could harm him. Now, the winner Biden is not tied by campaign issues and we hope that the exchange happens after his inauguration," Zherebenkov said.

Whelan was arrested in 2018 in a counter-espionage operation in Moscow. He has been sentenced for 16 years in prison. Previously, US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan said he could not confirm nor deny negotiation regarding Whelan’s exchange for a Russian national. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said earlier that media publications regarding the ongoing exchange negotiations were false.