Russian intelligence detain American ‘Paul Whelan’ in Moscow on spying charges
- The FSB intelligence service says the US citizen was detained on December 28 and a criminal case has been opened against him
Russia’s domestic security service (FSB) said on Monday it had detained an American citizen suspected of spying in Moscow, local news agencies reported.
The FSB, which said the American had been detained on December 28, added that a criminal case had been opened against him.
The statement identified the American in Russian, using a name that appeared to translate as Paul Whelan.
The agency said the American was detained “while carrying out an act of espionage”.
Russia’s Tass news agency said Whelan faces between 10 and 20 years in jail if found guilty.
The arrest came with Russia embroiled in a number of spy scandals with the West, from the alleged poisoning by Russian agents of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England to the US conviction of Russian Maria Butina for acting as an illegal foreign agent.
The US State Department said it had been notified of an American citizen’s detention by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs but could not confirm the name or provide more details, citing privacy considerations.
The US has asked for consular access. “We have requested this access and expect Russian authorities to provide it,” a State Department spokesman said.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse and the Washington Post