Ex-US marine accused of spying in Russian Federation is British citizen

Jeremy Hunt

Russian Federation detained Whelan, 48, on charges of espionage on 28 December.

But in 2008 Mr Whelan, who had achieved the rank of staff sergeant, was discharged from the marines for bad conduct.

The arrest was just one day after Russian Federation detained ex-US marine Paul Whelan on suspicion of "spying in Moscow".

Britain cautioned Russian Federation on Friday that individuals should not be used as diplomatic pawns.

The news that Paul Whelan holds citizenship in four countries brings global pressure on Russian Federation from several fronts.

Whelan, the 48-year-old global security director for a US auto parts company, was arrested December 28 in Moscow. At the time, he was identified only as an American.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow could not immediately be reached for comment, the news agency reported. And a photo posted in August shows Whelan attending a security conference organized by the U.S. State Department.

In a statement, David said: "Our focus remains on ensuring that Paul is safe, well treated, has a good lawyer, and is coming home". He urged both the U.S. Congress and the State Department to help get his brother freed. In Russia, a spying conviction carries a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years.

The Pentagon, which released his records, said the charges related to larceny.

"We need to see what these charges are against him", Hunt said, adding that Britain had offered consular access to Whelan but had not been able to visit him yet.

It's a citizenship fluke that essentially now obligates each issuing country to make consular representations in Moscow on his behalf.

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The former USA marine who is being held in Moscow on charges of spying is a British citizen, it has emerged.

Former intelligence officials told ABC News they view the Russian claims with deep skepticism and said Russia might have detained Whelan in an act of "reciprocity" for the arrest of Russian agent Maria Butina in the U.S. One former senior CIA official, Steven Hall, said the fact that Whelan may hold multiple passports doesn't suggest anything nefarious and said many people have multiple passports for perfectly legitimate reasons.

They say he was in Russian Federation for a wedding.

Earlier this week, Russian authorities detained an American, Paul Whelan, in Russia on suspicion of espionage.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned Russian Federation not to use United Kingdom citizens as "pawns in a diplomatic chess game", saying he is extremely concerned about the arrest of a former U.S. marine who also has British nationality. "We are extremely anxious about him and his family".

His family said he was visiting Moscow for a friend's wedding.

Whelan is employed as head of security at the worldwide auto parts firm BorgWarner based in MI, a spokesperson for the company said.

Mr Whelan is a retired US Marine who has British citizenship through his parents.

U.S. ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman met with Whelan on Wednesday and later spoke to his family by phone.

But Mr Hunt has shown that he, for now at least, is ready to respond robustly at a time when Anglo-Russian relations are still struggling to recover from last year's poisoning incident in Salisbury.

Russian Federation has angrily denied involvement in the poisonings.

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