WASHINGTON, December 12. /TASS/. Former US President Donald Trump has stated on his Truth Social platform that while in office, he turned down a deal to exchange Russian national Viktor Bout, jailed in the US, for US citizen Paul Whelan, convicted of espionage in Russia.
"I turned down a deal with Russia for a one-on-one swap," Trump said, noting that the deal concerned Whelan and Bout. "I would have gotten Paul out, however, just as I did with a record number of other hostages," he added.
Trump earlier slammed last week’s exchange of Bout for US basketball player Brittney Griner as "a one-sided disaster." He also wondered why Whelan had not been included in the swap deal.
Whelan, who holds US, British, Canadian and Irish passports, was detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in Moscow on December 28, 2018, while on a spy mission. A criminal case was opened against him under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code (espionage). The Moscow City Court eventually sentenced Whelan to 16 years in a high-security penal colony.