Suspected US spy Whelan slams Russia’s charges as provocation | Eurasia Diary -

27 May, Monday

Suspected US spy Whelan slams Russia’s charges as provocation

According to the attorney, Whelan's acquaintance linked to Russian special services could have set him up on career grounds

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US citizen Paul Whelan, who is charged with espionage against Russia, believes that the criminal investigation and charges against him are a provocation and phantasies of Russia’s Federal Security Service, his attorney Vladimir Zherebenkov told TASS.


"This was a framed-up crime. His acquaintance linked to Russian special services wrote a statement to the FSB, he could have set him up on career grounds," the attorney said, noting that this man had owed a big sum of money to his client.

According to the attorney, Whelan calls these charges against him FSB’s phantasies. This is the first time over the past 15 years when a US citizen has been detained in Russia on espionage charges. "The case files don’t have any evidence that my client had collected secret data in the interests of US special services," he noted.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said Paul Whelan was detained in Moscow "while he was on a spy mission." The FSB Investigative Department opened a criminal case under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code (espionage), which carries a punishment of 10 to 20 years in prison. Whelan holds citizenship of the US, UK, Ireland and Canada.

On February 22, Moscow’s Lefortovo Court extended Whelan’s custody until May 28. Earlier, the attorney said his client had received secret data on a flash card, while expecting to get open source information of cultural importance.

Whelan, 48, is corporate security director for US 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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