Four Embassies Work To Help Paul Whelan, Accused Of Spying In Russia

Marsha Scott
January 5, 2019

The government is "extremely worried" about the fate of a dual British-American citizen charged with espionage in Russian Federation, warning that he could be used in a "diplomatic chess game".

David Hoffman, a former CIA Moscow station chief, said it was "possible, even likely", that Russian Federation had detained Whelan to set up an exchange for Butina.

Putin has previously stated he would rein in Russian retaliatory measures against US interests in the hope relations would improve, but Whelan's detention indicates the Kremlin's calculations may now have changed.

Today it emerged that Mr Whelan also holds Canadian and Irish citizenship through birth and ancestry and that those governments are also involved in his case. "The US are leading on this because he is a British and American citizen".

The US Embassy in Moscow advised the British Embassy in Moscow on Thursday that a US citizen detained by the Russian authorities on December 28 informed them that he holds British citizenship, and therefore requested consular assistance from the UK.

"Because it is desperately worrying, not just for the individual but their families, and we are extremely anxious about him and his family as we hear this news".

The 48-year-old dual British-US national was taken into custody at the end of last month in Moscow, where his family said he was attending the wedding of a fellow former marine.

The details of the charges against Paul Whelan from a special court-martial that resulted in his discharge for bad conduct add to an increasingly complex picture of the former Marine, whom Russian officials have accused of spying. Russian intelligence services have publicly stated that in the event of a guilty verdict, Whelan faces between 10 and 20 years in prison.

Whelan is now in detention, awaiting trial on charges of espionage.

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Hunt says Friday that "we are giving him every support that we can, but we don't agree with individuals being used in diplomatic chess games".

After the United States demanded consular access to its citizen, the request was swiftly granted by Moscow.

The Marine Corps is providing details on the court-martial of an American man who has been detained by Russian Federation on spying charges. The former US Marine, arrested in Moscow last Friday, is said to have received a USB stick with sensitive information on it from Russian agents who met him at the Metropol Hotel - just down the street from both the Kremlin and the FSB headquarters.

Mr Whelan has been visiting Russian Federation for over a decade for business and pleasure, his twin brother said today.

A Russian national, Maria Butina, admitted last month to US prosecutors that she had tried to infiltrate American conservative groups as an agent for Moscow.

"Individuals should not be used as pawns of diplomatic leverage", British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said.

Whelan is a former U.S. Marine who lives in the state of MI and is director of global security at BorgWarner, a U.S. -based supplier of automotive parts and components.

Britain's foreign secretary says that Russian Federation is trying to use him as a pawn in its geopolitical games.

"Our focus remains on ensuring that Paul is safe, well treated, has a good lawyer, and is coming home", his family said in a statement. The highest rank he attained was staff sergeant.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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