MOSCOW: The Russian state security service of the FSB arrested a US citizen suspected of espionage in Moscow and opened criminal proceedings against him, “Associated Press” reported Tuesday.
The FSB said Monday that the American citizen was arrested Friday, but he did not specify the nature of his alleged espionage activities. In Russian law, espionage can result in between 10 and 20 years in prison.
A US State Department official said that Russia had notified him that a US citizen had been arrested and that he expected Moscow to allow him access to consular information.
“We have asked for this access and expect the Russian authorities to provide it,” said the representative without giving details about the identity of the American nor the reasons for his detention.
The TASS news agency’s English language service named him Paul Whelan. David Whelan stated in an email that he was Paul Whelan’s brother and that his brother had been arrested. He declined to say how he learned about his brother’s detention, his professional status at the time of his arrest, and whether his brother lived in Novi, Michigan, as indicated by the address books.
It appears that Paul Whelan worked for Kelly Services, an international recruitment company, which is located about 40 minutes drive from Novi to Troy, Michigan.
A spokeswoman for Kelly said a Paul Whelan had worked for the company until February 2016.
“Kelly has not yet confirmed if this former employee was the same individual as reported in the reports,” Kelly’s spokesperson Heather Klee said.
Russia’s relations with the United States collapsed when Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine in 2014, and Washington and its Western allies imposed a wide range of sanctions on leaders, businesses and banks Russian.
Earlier this month, Russia’s Maria Butina pleaded guilty in a US court and admitted to collaborating with a top Russian official to infiltrate conservative activist groups and US politicians as an agent in Moscow.
(Sahar News/Monitoring Desk)