Russians Charge American Citizen With Espionage

By Bill Galluccio

January 3, 2019

Officials in Russia have charged an American citizen with espionage after he was taken into custody on December 28th. Paul Whelan is currently being held in solitary confinement in Moscow's Lefortovo Prison and faces up to 20 years behind bars if he is convicted. 

Officials from Russia's Federal Security Service said that they caught Whelan “during an act of espionage," but did not elaborate on the specifics of the charges. 

According to the New York Times, Whalen was arrested after meeting with a Russian citizen to obtain classified information about staff members at various Russian agencies. Officials reportedly said that he received a USB drive which contained the names of employees at a classified agency. 

Whelan's lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, said that the charges are "unfounded" and requested that he be released on bail. 

"I filed a complaint with the Lefortovo court, because I believe that the arrest is excessive and unfounded," Zherebenkov told CNN. "We are asking for bail."

Whelan's family said that the 48-year-old was in Russia to attend the wedding of a friend from his time in the Marines and that he is not a spy. 

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