Russia Allows US Officials to Meet with American Held on Espionage Charges

Clay Curtis
January 3, 2019

He added that Paul, who now works in corporate security, had gone to Russian Federation to help other Americans at the wedding navigate Moscow and its extensive metro system.

Daniel Hoffman, a former CIA Moscow station chief, said it was "possible, even likely" that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered Whelan's arrest to set up an exchange for Maria Butina, a Russian citizen who pleaded guilty on December 13 to acting as an agent to influence conservative groups in the United States. Given the charges against Whelan, however, the appeal will nearly certainly be rejected.

The Russian government said Wednesday that it has allowed an American citizen held on espionage charges to have access to US officials seeking answers about his arrest. Paul is a retired Marine and was visiting Moscow to attend a wedding.

Whelan spent his two weeks in Russian Federation, saying in the interview that the leave program "gives those of us who are single an opportunity to travel throughout the world wherever we want to go and experience the diversity of culture". "Read the entire Travel Advisory", the State Department website reads.

The silence "was very much out of character for him even when he was traveling", the family said of Paul Whelan in the statement. "His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected", David Whelan tweeted.

Paul Whelan lives in Novi, Mich., and is director of global security for BorgWarner, where he has worked since early 2017. A friend who had served in the US Marine Corps with Paul was planning a wedding in Moscow and he was asked to go along to help out.

"I was surprised to see him being so confident", Zherebenkov told the newspaper. "It is inconceivable to me that he would have done anything to break the law in Russian Federation", he told The Washington Post. But in 2008, the records show, Whelan was discharged from the military for bad conduct for larceny charges. Ambassador Huntsman expressed his support for Mr. Whelan and offered the embassy's assistance. "He is responsible for overseeing security at our facilities in Auburn Hills, Michigan, and at other company locations around the world".

The ambassador also said the USA complained to the Russian government about the length of time it took them to grant consular access to Whelan. After Whelan arrest, however, I will change my advice.

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

Whelan's lawyer, Vladimir A. Zherebenkov, told the New York Times his client is in good spirits, despite the arrest. "All of a sudden, they have an American hostage and everything changes in terms of their position".

Whelan faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The American arrested in Russian Federation on allegations of espionage has a twin in Newmarket hoping to get his brother home safely.

Whelan's arrest came 15 days after alleged Russian spy Maria Butina pleaded guilty in United States federal court to trying to infiltrate political circles and influence USA relations with Russia.

Daniel Hoffman, a former CIA Moscow station chief, said it was "possible, even likely" that Putin had ordered Whelan's arrest to set up an exchange for Maria Butina, a Russian citizen who pleaded guilty on December 13 to acting as an agent to influence conservative groups in the United States.

It was not Whelan's first trip to Russian Federation, and family said he was there attending the wedding of a friend and helping American guests navigate Moscow.

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