Brother of US national detained in Russia on espionage charges to contact Russian lawyer

NEW YORK, January 7. /TASS/. A relative of US national Paul Whelan, who was detained in Russia on espionage charges, plans to get in contact with his Russian lawyer, Whelan’s brother, David, said on Monday.

“My brother Andrew e-mailed with the staff person, did not speak with them, due to the holiday [in Russia]. They did exchange contact information. He will be calling after the holiday,” according to an e-mail message to TASS.

Earlier in the day, David Whelan said he hopes his brother Paul will be visited by consular staff later in the week. He did not say however which country’s consulate he was speaking about but noted that the family members had spoken to representatives of the UK, Irish, and Canadian governments since Friday. “The US Embassy has indicated it will continue to lead on consular efforts, since Paul entered Russia on a US passport,” he said.

According to official data, Paul Whelan, 48, is global security chief at BorgWarner, a Michigan-based automotive components company. In the 1990s, before joining the US army, he worked for Michigan police. He served at the US Marine Corps, having administrative posts. In January 2008, he was convicted on embezzlement charges and fired from the US army.

Last week, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said US citizen Paul Whelan was detained on December 28, 2018, in Moscow while on a spy mission. A criminal investigation was opened against him on espionage charges carrying a punishment of up to 20 years in jail. US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman visited Whelan at the Lefortovo pre-trial detention center on Wednesday.

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