US Citizen Arrested in Russian Federation on Spying Charges

Jan 01, 2019, 02:16
US Citizen Arrested in Russian Federation on Spying Charges

The statement, issued in Russian, identified the American using a name that appeared to translate as Paul Whelan.

A U.S. citizen has been arrested in Moscow and accused of spying in what could be an attempt to get a Russian woman out of prison in Virginia. It said it was pushing for consular access to the detained American.

The latest round of sanctions "in response to Russia's continued disregard for worldwide norms", which includes Moscow's suspected interference in the 2016 US election, were announced earlier this month.

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Russian authorities indicated that they had opened a criminal case against the alleged spy, which could carry penalties of 10 to 20 years in prison. "We have requested this access and expect Russian authorities to provide it", the department said.

It provided no further details.

The arrest comes days after Russian citizen Maria Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a secret foreign agent in the United States.

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The arrest came with Moscow embroiled in a number of spy scandals with the West and after President Vladimir Putin accused Western nations of using espionage cases to try undermine an increasingly powerful Russian Federation.

She faces six months in prison, most likely followed by deportation.

Russian officials denied Butina is one of their agents. "There were simply no grounds for it".

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That arrest was made at the behest of the United States, which is seeking the extradition of the executive, Meng Wanzhou, in relation to violations of USA sanctions on Iran.