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Wife of jailed Russian national Bout ready to ask US to exchange him for Whelan

Viktor Bout, who is serving his sentence in Marion medium-security federal prison, Illinois, hardly knows about Paul Whelan’s sentence, she said

MOSCOW, June 16. /TASS/. Wife of Russian national Viktor Bout jailed in the United States is ready to send a request to the US authorities on exchanging her husband for US citizen Paul Whelan sentenced for espionage in Russia.

"If this is needed, then certainly, I’m ready to write any request and any statement to the US president and the US Congress. Because I want to recall that Viktor Bout has been jailed for 12 years and a half. This is nearly half of his sentence," Alla Bout told RTVI television on Monday.

Viktor, who is serving his sentence in Marion medium-security federal prison, Illinois, hardly knows about Whelan’s sentence, she said. "Unfortunately, Viktor now has no opportunity to get any information. He is practically fully isolated," she noted. "Over the past weeks, we have not been in touch with him. We had just one phone call a week ago for some 12 minutes. The jail’s authorities explained this by the situation currently observed in the US, besides the pandemic."

"I believe that everything here depends on the US political will because I know that our diplomats have addressed the US State Department and other agencies many times. Unfortunately, so far no answers from the US to the Russian embassy’s requests have been officially received, as far as I know," she said.

On Monday, the Moscow City Court found Paul Whelan guilty of spying against Russia and sentenced him to 16 years in prison.

US citizen Paul Whelan, who also holds British, Canadian and Irish citizenship, was detained by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) on December 28, 2018 in Moscow while on an alleged spy mission. A criminal investigation was launched against him on espionage charges carrying a punishment of up to 20 years behind bars.

Whelan denied all the charges. His defense insisted that the case had been fabricated, while Whelan’s activity in Russia was of a strictly humanitarian nature.

Viktor Bout was detained in Thailand’s capital Bangkok on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by a local court based on a US request. He was charged with illegal supplying weapons to a group called the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which Washington designated as a terrorist organization. In 2010, Bout was extradited to the United States. In April 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and fined $15 million.