Russia Arrests American Marine on 'Espionage' Charges

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.

Whelan, 48, was in Moscow to attend a wedding when he disappeared, his brother, David Whelan, said Tuesday. Russia's FSB security service did not acknowledge the arrest until Monday when it claimed Whelan was detained on a "spy mission".

We have read reports of the arrest in Moscow of Paul Whelan, our son & brother.

The Marine Corps on Wednesday released details of Whelan's service record. His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected.

David Whelan said in an interview that his brother had been to Russian Federation several times previously, so when a fellow former Marine was planning a wedding in Moscow, he was asked to go along to help out. He told USA Today the groom is a friend who served with Paul in the Marines.

"I often get asked if it's safe to travel to Russian Federation as a tourist or student".

"I don't think there's any chance that he's a spy", David Whelan told CNN.

Whelan attained the rank of staff sergeant in December 2004 after the first of two deployments in Iraq.

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David Whelan told CNN that his brother, who had served in Iraq, has been to Russian Federation many times in the past for both work and personal trips, and had been serving as a tour guide for some of the wedding guests.

Whelan's family, in a statement that David Whelan posted on Twitter, said: "We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being. He is responsible for overseeing security at our facilities in Auburn Hills, Michigan, and at other company locations around the world".

The ambassador said the USA complained to the Russian government about the length of time it took them to grant consular access to Whelan, who was arrested Friday. After Whelan arrest, however, I will change my advice. "This gives him some possibility of negotiating a prisoner swap".

Browder argued that people accused of espionage under circumstances like Whelan's are normally deported, not arrested and threatened with 20 years in prison. Other analysts noted that Russian Federation rarely arrests Americans for espionage and low-level intelligence work is usually carried out by people with some diplomatic cover. "We ask that any further inquiries regarding this issue be directed to the U.S. State Department".

Since his arrest, Whelan has been detained for what Russians call "suspicion of carrying out an act of espionage", though they have offered no evidence.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Russian Foreign Ministry said officials from the American Consulate have been granted access to Whelan.

Early Wednesday morning while on a trip in Brazil, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the Russians to act within global law in their treatment of Whelan.

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