American detained on spy charges in Moscow

31 December, 2018, 22:05 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • An undated handout image released by the Whelan family showing Paul Whelan of Michigan who has reportedly been arrested in Moscow Russia by the FSB under charges of espionage despite the family advising he was in Russia for a wedding

Russian Federation has arrested an American citizen on suspicion of spying in Moscow, its domestic security service (FSB) has said.

The FSB, which said the American had been detained on December 28, added that a criminal case had been opened against him.

The FSB, Russia's main counter-espionage service, gave no further details.

By Russian law, foreigners found guilty of spying on Russia face between 10 and 20 years in prison.

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The detention comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and the USA, including over Maria Butina, a Russian gun enthusiast who pleaded guilty earlier this month in the U.S.to conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent. A spokesperson told Reuters, "We have requested this access and expect Russian authorities to provide it".

The U.S. State Department said it knows about "the detention of a U.S. citizen by Russian authorities" but said it had not been given formal notification by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Butina said in court that she'd been operating as a Kremlin agent as she befriended National Rifle Association leaders and influential USA conservatives.

Alexander Mikhailov, a retired FSB officer, said the arrest reflected the effectiveness of Russian counterintelligence.

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