Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Moscow denies holding British and Irish citizen as pawn

Paul Whelan Image Paul Whelan 48 was born in Canada to British parents
Ellis Copeland | 08 January, 2019, 20:02

Whalen was reduced in rank from staff sergeant to corporal and given a bad conduct discharge from the service.

There has also been speculation over other possible motives for the arrest - including a suggestion Mr Whelan was detained so he could be exchanged with Maria Butina, a Russian gun rights activist, who was jailed in the U.S. last month, our correspondent added.

"Because it is desperately worrying, not just for the individual but their families, and we are extremely anxious about him and his family as we hear this news", he said.

Paul Whelan sought out friends throughout the country, most often through a social networking site that is similar to Facebook and popular largely in Russian Federation. They are working with the U.S., Ireland and Canada to offer him consular assistance.

A USA court in Miami indicted Makarenko in June 2017 on charges of conspiracy to export defense items without a license, attempting to export such items, and money laundering, according to documents on the electronic filing site. "Our focus remains on ensuring that Paul is safe, well-treated, has a good lawyer and is coming home".

He urged the U.S. Congress and the State Department to help get his brother freed.

Under the charge of espionage, he could face up to 20 years in jail if found guilty.

Shortly before Butina pleaded guilty, Putin said she was not known to any of his spy agencies.

A Foreign Office spokesman in London said: "Our staff have requested consular access to a British man detained in Russian Federation after receiving a request for assistance from him".

Officials with the British Foreign Office said there is considerable concern for Whelan.

It's a citizenship fluke that essentially now obligates each issuing country to make consular representations in Moscow on his behalf.

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Whelan, who is officially employed as director of global security for a Michigan-based automotive parts supplier, was detained in Moscow on December 28, with Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) filing a criminal case against him over allegations of espionage.

Whelan's family has stressed his innocence.

Officials have now confirmed that Whelan holds U.S., British and Irish citizenship.

"We regret that American law enforcement continues to hunt for Russian citizens", said Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, according to the state-run TASS news agency.

Writing in a statement on the matter, BorgWarner executives confirmed both that Whelan is an employee and that he was arrested at the end of 2018: "We can confirm that Mr. Whelan now serves as the company's director, global security".

Whelan holds a British passport, according to reports Friday.

Paul Whelan, a 48-year-old who has United Kingdom citizenship, was arrested in Moscow last week, prompting Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to warn the Kremlin not to use Britons as diplomatic pawns. "Because it is desperately worrying, not just for the individual but their families, and we are extremely anxious about him and his family as we hear this news". Paul Whelan was in Moscow to help plan the wedding of another former Marine because he had been to Russian Federation several times before, the brother said. He now lives in MI and is director of global security for automotive components supplier BorgWarner.

Interfax said he added that "there is no connection" with the case and any Russian citizen in the US.

Paul Whelan speaks so little Russian that when U.S. diplomats visited him on Wednesday he did not have his glasses, his brother said.

Britain and Russia's relationship sharply deteriorated past year after a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, was poisoned in England with a nerve agent and spent months recovering.

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