Family of American arrested in Russian Federation as a spy says he's innocent

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference after the US-Canada ministerial meeting at the State Department in Washington US

The family feared he had been mugged or was in a vehicle accident, David Whelan said, and it was when searching the internet on Monday that he learned of the arrest.

The Federal Security Service, or FSB, the top KGB successor agency, said Paul Whelan was detained in Moscow on Friday.

"His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected", the statement said.

Under Russian law, espionage can carry a prison sentence of between 10 and 20 years.

Butina pleaded guilty to acting under the direction of a Russian official to establish relationships with influential Americans.

The family learned of his arrest only after it was reported by Russian state news outlets, prompting the family to contact congressional representatives and US diplomats.

In Washington, the State Department said it had been formally notified by Russia's foreign ministry and was seeking access to the detained American.

David Whelan said he has no idea why his brother was targeted by the Russian security services.

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A member of the USA government should have visited Whelan in detention by now, according to Russia's obligations under the Vienna Convention, which dictates that consular access must be provided within a 72-hour window from the time of arrest.

Whelan, who is based in MI, works in corporate security for BorgWarner, a US -based automotive parts supplier that has business contracts in Russian Federation.

Paul Whelan was in Russian Federation for a wedding, his brother says. According to Whelan's brother and Russian acquaintances, he has been visiting Russia since 2007, when he was a Marine staff sergeant serving in Iraq and travelled to Moscow during a break from duty.

He now lives in Novi, Michigan, and is director of global security for BorgWarner, where he has worked since early 2017.

His arrest comes as tensions between Washington and Moscow continue to escalate over a range of issues from election meddling, the crises in Syria and Ukraine and the poisoning of a Russian former spy in Britain.

A spokesperson for BorgWarner stated the company has no facilities in Russian Federation.

BorgWarner has been in contact with the relevant U.S. Government authorities in order to help our employee and the U.S. government.

A Russian gun-rights activist, Maria Butina, is in USA custody after admitting she acted as a secret agent for the Kremlin in trying to infiltrate conservative U.S. political groups as Donald Trump was seeking the presidency.

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