Published: Sat, January 05, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Ex-Marine detained in Russian Federation on espionage charges holds multiple passports

Ex-Marine detained in Russian Federation on espionage charges holds multiple passports

THE Irish embassy in Russian Federation has requested consular access to a former US Marine who has been detained in Moscow on espionage charges.

Paul Whelan, a retired marine, was arrested in Russian Federation during an 'espionage operation, ' but his twin brother David says the allegations don't ring true.

Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs on Friday confirmed that Whelan also holds Irish citizenship and said it also is requesting consular access to him in Moscow. Members of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow were given access to Whelan and confirmed that he is safe, the family said in a statement Friday.

Earlier reports said that Whelan also holds British citizenship.

Whelan, Felgenhauer told DW, doesn't seem like a typical American spy; he pointed out that the 48-year-old global security director for a USA auto parts company has never even held diplomatic immunity.

Whelan is a former US Marine, who worked as a security director for BorgWarner, a major Michigan-based auto parts manufacturer. Whelan, who has denied the charges, could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

Whelan's detention further complicates a strained relationship between Moscow and Washington, despite the professed desire of the two presidents, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, to build a personal rapport.

He added: "We are giving him every support that we can, but we don't agree with individuals being used in diplomatic chess games". American ambassador Jon Huntsman, visited Whelan in detention and told the family that the man was doing OK. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that "if [Whelan's] detention is not appropriate, we will demand his immediate return". He expressed gratitude to the US ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, for his assistance.

The details of Whelan's convictions in the Marine Corps come as Moscow copes with the diplomatic fallout of detaining a man who appears to be a citizen of four countries.

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Britain was informed of his status by the USA embassy in Moscow and requested consular access from the Russian authorities on Wednesday, the same day the United States ambassador visited him in jail. His brother David Whelan said their family was from the West Midlands.

Relations between Moscow and London are at a low point in the wake of Britain's allegations that Russian military intelligence agents were behind the nerve-agent poisoning of a Russian former double agent and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury in March. "Our focus remains on ensuring that Paul is safe, well-treated, has a good lawyer and is coming home".

Russian Federation has angrily denied involvement in the poisonings.

Butina is a Russian gun activist, who was arrested in the U.S. in July and eventually pleaded guilty to working as a foreign agent without proper registration.

Whelan, a former staff sergeant with the Marines in Iraq, has visited Russian Federation since at least 2007.

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

Whelan's brother, David Whelan, said in an interview Tuesday that he had no idea why his brother was targeted by the Russian security services.

Whelan received a "bad conduct" discharge from the Marines, according to his official military personnel file obtained by Fox News. He rose in the ranks of the Marines to staff sergeant and served during the Iraq War.

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