Tuesday, 20 August, 2019

US Ambassador Offers Assistance to American Detained in Russia - Embassy

Paul Whelan Paul Whelan WHELAN FAMILY HANDOUT EPA-EFE REX Shutterstock
Patty Aguilar | 04 January, 2019, 03:39

USA consular officials were granted access to MI resident Paul Whelan for the first time since his arrest during a visit to the country, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

A Russian court charged Paul Whelan, 48, on Monday, according to Interfax, a Russian news agency.

While announcing the arrest three days later, the Russian Security Service said Whelan was caught "during an espionage operation", but gave no details.

Whelan works for a Michigan-based vehicle parts supplier and, according to the Rosbalt news agency, was arrested shortly after receiving a USB drive containing a classified list of names.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman met with Whelan in Moscow on Wednesday.

The American ambassador to Russian Federation has met with a former US Marine who was arrested last week in Russian Federation and is being held on suspicion of spying. "Mr. Whelan's family claims that he visited Moscow, arriving one week before the wedding he came to attend and staying at the famed Metropol hotel, which is known to be under a heavy surveillance".

"He asked for a few everyday items", Zherebenkov said, adding that Whelan had been delayed in receiving them because he was arrested just before New Year and "in principle, the comrades were already on holiday".

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When he was first detained, Whelan's family said in a statement that his brother David posted on Twitter: 'We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being.

Under Russian law, espionage can carry a sentence of between 10 and 20 years in prison.

He went on to start Kingsmead Arsenal, an online firearms business, from his Novi, Michigan, home, and worked for Troy, Michigan-based temporary staffing firm Kelly Services until 2017. "Our goal is to get him home", David Whelan said. Russian police detained Paul Whelan, who now faces espionage charges, almost a week ago.

David Whelan denied his brother was a spy, and called for his safe return back to the U.S.

Whelan's family has gone silent after speaking with Paul on Wednesday.

Secretary of State Pompeo was asked by reporters on Tuesday if he believed Russian Federation had taken Whelan in retaliation for Butina's detention. Instead, many suspect that the arrest was retribution for the detention of a 30-year-old Russian woman named Maria Butina, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy for attempting to infiltrate Republican political circles on behalf of the Russian government.

She said BorgWarner does not have any facilities in Russian Federation.

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