Published: Fri, January 04, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

American Paul Whelan charged with espionage in Russian Federation, news agency reports

American Paul Whelan charged with espionage in Russian Federation, news agency reports

USA citizen Paul Whelan has been charged with espionage almost a week after he was arrested in Moscow, where he was visiting for a friend's wedding.

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

Born in Canada, Mr Whelan was arrested last Friday "while carrying out an act of espionage", according to Russia's FSB domestic security service. According to a statement from his employer, Whelan is now the director of global security for BorgWarner Inc., a large American auto-parts supplier.

"His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected", it continues.

Whelan's lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, declined to comment on the charges but told Reuters that under the terms of the arrest order, Whelan was expected to remain in custody in Moscow until at least February 28.

Whelan's arrest came 15 days after alleged Russian spy Maria Butina pleaded guilty in USA federal court to trying to infiltrate political circles and influence United States relations with Russia.

David Whelan said he has no idea why his brother was targeted by the Russian security services. He was an administrative clerk and administrative chief.

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Whelan - who was born in Ottawa but has lived in the US since the early 1970s - served in the Marine Corps Reserves from 1994 to 2008 and was convicted of larceny in a special court-martial in January 2008.

USA Todayreported on Wednesday that Paul Whelan's military records show him serving in the Marine reserves from 1994 to 2008, with deployments to Iraq as an administrative clerk in 2004 and 2006.

A British citizen has been detained in Russian Federation on suspicion of spying, The Times has learnt.

"I have sent an appeal against Whelan's detention, in my appeal I am asking to change my client's measure of restraint from arrest to release on bail to the sum determined by the court", Zherebenkov told TASS on Thursday.

The Russian spying charges carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years. "He is responsible for overseeing security at our facilities in Auburn Hills, Michigan and at other company locations around the world".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday the United States had asked Russian Federation to explain Whelan's arrest and would demand his immediate return if it determines his detention is inappropriate. The company has said it doesn't have facilities in Russian Federation.

His lawyer said the 48-year-old was "behaving in a constructive manner" and that investigators were treating him in a "humane and professional way". A man claiming to be Whelan's brother said that Whelan had been in Moscow for a friend's wedding.

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