UCF Global Perspectives


U.S. Spy Suspect to Remain in Russian Custody

Benjamin Giltner, Intern, Europe incl. Russia

January 25, 2019

A Russian court ruled on Tuesday that Paul Whelan will await his trial for espionage charges in Lefortovo detention center in Moscow without bail (CNN). The Russian Federal Security Service arrested Whelan on December 28, 2018 (CNN) and he faces up to twenty years in prison if proven guilty of espionage (BBC). The online Russian news source, Rosbalt.ru, stated that Whelan was found in possession of a thumb drive with classified information on a Russian state agency (Reuters).  Whelan’s lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, claimed Whelan expected the thumb drive to contain “cultural” photos of his Russian vacation (BBC), and was “unknowingly” given this classified information (Reuters).

Whelan’s brother denied accusations against Whelan of espionage and claimed that Whelan was attending a friend’s wedding (BBC). Other members of Whelan’s family insisted that he has visited Russia since his 2006 military leave (CNN) for only business and vacation purposes (BBC). The governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and the Irish Republic could also be drawn into this case, due to Whelan’s citizenship in these countries (BBC). Zherebenkov told reporters that Whelan received treatment for some “minor health problems” (Reuters), yet he is still committed to proving his innocence (BBC).





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