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Moscow Presses U.S. to Swap Russian Pilot for American in Russia

  • Pilot jailed for drug-smuggling could be swapped, Ryabkov says
  • Deputy foreign minister links case to American held in Moscow
Paul Whelan listens to his lawyers while standing inside a defendants' cage during a hearing at a court in Moscow on Jan. 22, 2019. 

Paul Whelan listens to his lawyers while standing inside a defendants' cage during a hearing at a court in Moscow on Jan. 22, 2019. 

Photographer: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

A senior official in Moscow urged the U.S. to consider swapping a jailed Russian pilot convicted of drug smuggling for its own citizens detained in Russia, news services reported.

Konstantin Yaroshenko could be exchanged for “an American or Americans who are imprisoned” in Russia, though the U.S. hasn’t responded positively to previous offers, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Monday, according to the Interfax news service. Yaroshenko is serving a 20-year sentence for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. after he was arrested in Liberia in 2010 and extradited to America.