Published: Sat, January 12, 2019

Petition Calls For Release Of Novi Man Held For Spying In Russia

Petition Calls For Release Of Novi Man Held For Spying In Russia

USA diplomats regularly visit detained Americans to make sure they receive humane treatment, Spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Moscow Andrea Kalan told TASS when asked if diplomats would once again visit United States citizen Paul Whelan, detained in Russian Federation on suspicion of espionage.

Paul Whelan is pictured in this undated photo released by his family.

Krasnova added that the appellant requested that the court annul the suspect's arrest warrant and release him on bail, the amount of which will be determined by the court.

Whelan remains detained in Moscow's Lefortovo Prison.

Media reports have speculated that Whelan was detained to facilitate a possible spy swap with a Russian agent arrested overseas, possibly Marina Butina, a gun-rights campaigner who has pleaded guilty in a US court to acting as an agent for the Kremlin and has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Whelan's lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, said on January 3 that he filed a complaint with the Lefortovo court because the detention without bail is "excessive and unwarranted".

The Kremlin was responding to comments from Britain and Canada, which have both expressed concern that Whelan, who also holds Canadian, British and Irish citizenship, could have been arrested as a political bargaining chip.

Some former USA intelligence officers have speculated Whelan may have been taken in retaliation over the jailing of Maria Butina, the Russian gun rights activist who last month pleaded guilty in a US court to acting as a foreign agent.

The 48-year-old's family rejects Russia's accusation, asserting Whelan was only in the country for a vacation.

Whelan's twin brother David wrote in an op-ed in Friday's Washington Post that his brother is not a spy. "We need to see what those charges are against him to understand whether there is a case or not".

Whelan, a MI resident, has had a career in corporate security, his brother said, including at automotive components supplier BorgWarner since 2017.

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