Tags: EU | Russia | US | Spying

American Held in Moscow for Spying Is Also British

American Held in Moscow for Spying Is Also British

Friday, 04 January 2019 11:37 AM

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian officials say the American former Marine who is being held in Moscow on spying charges also holds British citizenship, and London has requested consular access to him.

Paul Whelan, the global security director for a U.S. company, was arrested a week ago in Moscow. At the time, he was identified only as an American.

Britain's Press Association said Whelan's U.K. citizenship was reported by the U.S. embassy to British officials on Thursday. That was a day after U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman, Jr. met with Whelan at Lefortovo Prison in Moscow.

"He has British citizenship. The British side has sent a request for a consular visit. Work on it is in progress," the Russian state news agency Tass cited Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying.

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.

Russia has angrily denied involvement in the poisonings.

The two Russian suspects identified by British authorities, who were spotted on security cameras in Salisbury on the day that former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal were poisoned, claim they were businessmen on a short holiday to see the city's famed cathedral.

Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats in the case, and Russia sent home the same number. Many British allies made similar expulsions, with more than 150 Russian diplomats kicked out overall.

Whelan's arrest came two weeks after Russian gun-rights activist Maria Butina pleaded guilty in the United States to conspiring to act as a foreign agent by trying to infiltrate conservative circles and the National Rifle Association to influence U.S. politics.

Butina has become a cause celebre for Russia — her face is being used as the profile picture on the Foreign Ministry's Facebook page — and the timing of Whelan's arrest has led to suggestions that he is being seen as a potential swap for her.

A top member of Russia's parliament, foreign affairs committee deputy head Dmitry Novikov, on Friday appeared to suggest that was a possibility once the investigation into Whelan was completed.

"I think that we have to give our special services the opportunity to finalize things with the detainees. Then we will see," he said, according to the Interfax news agency.

Whelan, 48, a former staff sergeant with the Marines in Iraq, has visited Russia since at least 2007. He was there again for a friend's wedding when he was detained. He is the global security director for the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based BorgWarner, an auto parts supplier.

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Russian officials say the American former Marine who is being held in Moscow on spying charges also holds British citizenship, and London has requested consular access to him.Paul Whelan, the global security director for a U.S. company, was arrested a week ago in Moscow. At...
EU,Russia,US,Spying
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2019-37-04
Friday, 04 January 2019 11:37 AM
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