Brother of Alleged American Spy, Paul Whelan, Says he is Innocent of Russia’s Accusations
The United States levied new sanctions against Russia for violating international norms on December 19th. Days later, The Kremlin announced they had arrested a US citizen, Paul Whelan. The Russians claimed, “Whelan was detained by officers of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation during a spy mission in Moscow.”
This morning, Whelan’s brother David took to Twitter to proclaim his brother’s innocence. His statement read:
“We have read reports of the arrest in Moscow of Paul Whelan, our son & brother. Paul is a retired Marine and was visiting Moscow to attend a wedding. We noticed he was not in communication on the 28th, which was very much out of character for him, even when travelling. We learned of his arrest on Monday morning after after his detention was picked up on newswires and have contacted Congressional representatives, the U.S. Embassy, and the State Department. We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being. His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected.”
The charges against Whelan are serious and he could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. The arrest could be seen as payback for the arrest of Maria Butina. Former CIA station chief, Dan Hoffman, told the Daily Beast, “This wasn’t planned yesterday. It was probably planned back after [Butina] was arrested. They want to deter future U.S. actions against other private citizens.”
This arrest is sure to test the relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. The White House has not yet commented on the arrest of Paul Whelan.