US, UK National Whelan Detained in Russia Also Has Irish Citizenship
US, UK National Whelan Detained in Russia Also Has Irish Citizenship
Russians Amused by Reports Alleged US Spy Also Has Canadian UK Citizenship Flickr J Aaron Farr
05 January, 2019, 01:40
Britain has warned Russian Federation against playing "diplomatic chess games" following the arrest on spying charges by Moscow of Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who also holds British and Irish citizenship.
State news agency Tass and private agency Interfaxreported Thursday, citing unnamed sources, that Whelan has been indicted on the charges.
Details about Whelan's spying activities in Russian Federation and his arrest might be scarce at the moment, but it seems the mainstream media has already figured everything out.
In a statement issued this afternoon, Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs said: "The Embassy of Ireland in Moscow has requested consular access to an Irish citizen now detained in Russian Federation after receiving a request for assistance".
The US ambassador said Washington complained to the Russian government about the length of time it took to grant consular access to Whelan after his arrest. "We are extremely anxious about him and his family".
Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB, arrested him December 28, and then waited several days before declaring it had snared Whelan in the middle of a spy mission.
According to security expert Pavel Felgenhauer, it's quite possible that Whelan was detained in an effort to set up an exchange for Maria Butina, a Russian citizen jailed last summer over allegations she acted as an illegal foreign agent in the US.
Mr Zherebenkov said Mr Whelan, who faces a jail term of up to 20 years if convicted, remained in good spirits when he spoke to him on Wednesday this week.
The detention of Whelan comes weeks after Russian Maria Butina pleaded guilty in a US court to acting as an agent for the Kremlin.
Since leaving the USA military, Whelan had worked as a global security executive with US companies, had visited Russia and had developed a network of Russian acquaintances.
USA intelligence officials accuse Russian Federation of meddling in US elections - a charge Russian Federation denies.
In The New York Times, Paul Whelan has been portrayed as a man who likes to travel around Russian Federation by train and collect Soviet-era tea glass holders.
Britain was informed of his status by the United States embassy in Moscow and requested consular access from the Russian authorities on Wednesday, the same day the U.S. ambassador visited him in jail. Whelan's twin brother said he doesn't believe Whelan is a spy.
Relations between Moscow and London have hit 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.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday the US would demand Whelan's immediate return if the detention was not deemed appropriate.
"Individuals should not be used as pawns of diplomatic leverage", British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said.
"We urge the U.S. Congress and the State Department to help on Paul's behalf to secure his release and return him home soon".
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.
Whelan is being held in Moscow's Lefortovo prison, accused by Russian Federation of trying to steal official secrets.
Whalen was reduced in rank from staff sergeant to corporal and given a bad conduct discharge from the service. He said his brother had been to Russian Federation several times before.
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