U.S. Citizen Charged in Russia with Espionage

Paul Whelan's lawyer says he was in Moscow for a wedding.

US Citizen Russia
The Russian government arrested and has now officially charged a U.S. citizen with espionage. (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
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American citizen Paul Whelan has been formally charged with espionage in Russia, his lawyer said Thursday.

The charge comes almost a week after Whelan — a discharged Marine reservist — was detained in Moscow while on vacation in the country to attend the wedding of a fellow former U.S. service member and a Russian woman, CNN reported.

The Russian government announced the arrest three days ago and no further details about the specific allegations against him have been released. Whelan’s condition and mood are good, however, according to his lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, and the prison where he’s being kept has treated him well.

Zherebenkov said Thursday that it could be six months before a court date is set but added that he has asked for Whelan to be released on bail.

Perhaps unrelated, as some assume, Whelan’s arrest came just 15 days after alleged Russian spy Maria Butina pleaded guilty in US federal court to trying to infiltrate political circles and influence U.S. relations with Russia. CNN reported that some former U.S. national security officials are speculating that the arrest of Whelan, spy or not, could be Russian government retaliation for Butina’s prosecution.

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