MOSCOW, December 23. /TASS/. The Russian Foreign Ministry has offered Washington to discuss the fate of Russian nationals Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, currently serving sentences in US prisons, in response to a message by the US Embassy regarding the detention of US national Paul Whelan on charges of espionage, the Russian diplomats wrote on Twitter.
"Viktor Bout has spent over 4,000 days at a US prison," the ministry wrote. "Konstantin Yaroshenko has spent over 3,000 days there. Yaroshenko is not provided with the food he requires due to his health condition. Neither Russian did anything illegal. Whelan was caught in the act. Let’s discuss this," the diplomats stated.
Earlier, US Embassy in Russia Spokesperson Rebecca Ross wrote on Twitter that US, Canadian, Irish and UK diplomats had visited Whelan on Monday. She noted that Whelan had been in custody for over 300 days with no evidence presented.
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.
Russian national Viktor Bout was apprehended in the Thai capital of Bangkok in 2008 on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by a local court at the request of the US. He was charged with conspiracy to deliver weapons to a group calling itself the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States. In 2010, Bout was extradited to the United States. In April 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and a fine of $15 mln.
For his part, Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko was convicted in the United States on September 7, 2011 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He pled not guilty and described his arrest as a provocation and the whole case as a frame-up. Yaroshenko was brought to the United States from Liberia, where he was arrested on May 28, 2010. Agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration allegedly exposed Yaroshenko’s criminal intent to transport a large batch of cocaine. The Russian authorities and the pilot’s family in Rostov-on-Don have repeatedly asked the United States for Yaroshenko’s handover to Russia.