The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed rumors on Thursday that it is planning to repatriate alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout through a swap deal with the United States.
On Wednesday an anonymous security service officer dismissed the rumors in Russian media, saying that Bout could be released in exchange for a former Russian Defense Ministry officer accused of spying for the United States.
"All the variants [in the Russian media] of the so-called swaps are no more than idle speculation," ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said. He added that Moscow would help Bout regardless of the charges against him.
Bout, 44, is currently awaiting trial on charges including conspiring to supply arms to a Colombian terrorist group and killing U.S. nationals. He is allowed to communicate with his family and lawyers only through a glass panel.
Lukashevich said that Bout had never been a state service official and had never fulfilled any state assignments, that is why "the question about his swap with anybody had never been considered."
Bout, an ex-Soviet military officer dubbed the Merchant of Death by western press, was arrested in Thailand in March 2008 during a sting operation led by U.S. agents. He was extradited to the United States in November last year after spending more than two and half years behind bars waiting for a decision on his extradition.
Bout denies all charges filed against him. He could face from 25 years to life in prison if found guilty under U.S. laws.
MOSCOW, March 10 (RIA Novosti)