Russia Reportedly Charged Former US Marine with Espionage

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference following the United Nations Security Council meeting on Iran at the United Nations

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the US wants Russia to explain why it detained a retired marine on spying charges

American citizen Paul Whelan has been formally charged with espionage in Russian Federation, his lawyer said Thursday.

Whelan, a MI native, was arrested last Friday by members of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) who accused him of being on a "spy mission", and he has since been detained at Lefortovo Prison in Moscow. The Russian Federal Security Service announced the arrest three days later and said Whelan was caught "during an espionage operation", but it gave no details.

Whelan is employed as director of global security at BorgWarner, an American automotive parts supplier. "Whelan dismisses it", Interfax news agency reported, citing a source.

"All of us have things in our past that maybe detract from our better selves and that's perhaps why I didn't know about it", David said.

The page shows that someone last logged in to the profile under Whelan's name on Friday, the same day Russian officials said he was arrested in Moscow.

Defense lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov told The Associated Press he applied for Whelan to be released on bail that would be set at an amount determined later.

In 2016, Izvestia, a Kremlin-aligned news outlet, reported there were 13 US citizens in Russian jails at the time.

Whelan's family have maintained his innocence and Kremlin experts have speculated that the arrest was a bogus attempt to create leverage against America in the case of Maria Butina, a Russian woman who pleaded guilty in the U.S.to acting as an illegal foreign agent just two weeks ago. He was an administrative clerk and administrative chief.

The Whelans learned through the Internet that the former Marine, who has completed several tours in Iraq, had been arrested.

Paul Whelan previously worked for Kelly Services, which does maintain offices in Russian Federation, his brother said.

When asked about the VKontakte page, Whelan's brother said he couldn't confirm the account, but accepts that his brother likely had one, because he made friends in the country.

According to the Washington Post, the Russian lawyer appointed to represent Wheland, Vladimir Zherebenknov, expects that Whelan will remain in Russian custody until at least February 28.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. met with Whelan at Moscow's Lefortovo Prison on Wednesday.

"Ambassador Huntsman expressed his support for Mr Whelan and offered the embassy's assistance", a State Department spokesperson said.

The charges he faces 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". Russian police detained Paul Whelan, who now faces espionage charges, almost a week ago.

Russian Federation has claimed the Butina case is a fabricated witch hunt and has accused the US of taking her hostage for political reasons.

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