US diplomats visit American charged with espionage in Russia

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MOSCOW, February 5. /TASS/. Diplomats from the US embassy in Moscow have visited Paul Whelan, an American charged with espionage in Russia, embassy spokesperson Andrea Kalan told TASS on Tuesday.

“I can confirm that US Embassy representatives visited Paul Whelan at the Lefortovo detention facility today,” she said.

Apart from US citizenship, Whelan also holds British, Canadian and Irish passports. Diplomats from the British, Canadian and Irish embassies have also visited him. US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman visited Whelan at the Lefortovo pre-trial detention center in early January.

Whelan case

According to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Paul Whelan was detained in Moscow on December 28, 2018, while on a spy mission. The FSB Investigative Department opened an investigation under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code (espionage), which carries a punishment of ten to 20 years in prison.

Whelan, 48, is corporate security director for automotive parts supplier BorgWarner. According to the Washington Post, he enlisted in the US Marines in 1994 and “rose through the ranks to become a staff sergeant, serving two tours in Iraq, in 2004 and 2006.” However, Whelan “was discharged for bad conduct in 2008 after being convicted of several charges related to larceny.”.

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