Paul Whelan
Paul Whelan

Russia has allowed consular access to a retired U.S. Marine who has been detained on espionage charges, the country's foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Access was granted just hours after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he expected an explanation about why the American was arrested and demanded his release if the detention is not appropriate.

A flag flies behind an enclosure on the territory of the U.S. embassy in Moscow, Russia March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva - UP1EE3S16VMMC
American in Russian Custody Identified as Retired Marine
Paul Whelan, the American citizen detained in Moscow on Friday on espionage charges, has been identified as a retired U.S. Marine.Whelan's family posted messages on social media Tuesday, saying they first grew concerned when he did not contact them on Friday.My brother was detained by the Russian government on Friday as an alleged spy. While the law library + info focus will remain, you may see an increase in off-message topics until we get him safely home.

On Monday, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officials said the American, who has been identified as 48-year-old Paul Whelan, had been detained Dec. 28 "while carrying out an act of espionage," and a criminal probe has been ordered.

They provided no further details, but Russia's state-run TASS news agency said Whelan faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Whelan is employed as director of global security at BorgWarner, an American  automotive parts supplier.

In this photo taken July 24, 2017, a car passes the building of the Federal Security Service (FSB, Soviet KGB successor) in Lubyanskaya Square in Moscow, Russia. The U.S. has orchestrated the arrest of five alleged Russian cybercriminals across Europ
Russia Launches Criminal Probe of US Citizen
Russia has detained an American citizen in Moscow on accusations of spying, according to Russian state media.Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officials issued a statement on Monday saying U.S. citizen Paul Whelan had been detained on December 28 “while carrying out an act of espionage,” and that they have opened a criminal probe.They provided no further details, but Russia’s state-run TASS news agency said that Whelan faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.A State Department spokesperson…

Whelan's family learned of his arrest only after it was reported by Russian state news outlets, prompting the family to contact congressional representatives and U.S. diplomats.

"We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being," the family said. "His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected."

Whelan's arrest coincides with several spy scandals that have exacerbated tensions between Russia and the West, including the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.

Accused Russian agent Maria Butina pleads guilty to a single conspiracy charge in a deal with prosecutors and admitted to working with a top Russian official to infiltrate a powerful gun-rights group and influence U.S. policy toward Moscow, in this c...
Russian Spy’s Guilty Plea Illustrates Danger Facing US
Former top U.S. intelligence officials are warning the guilty plea by a former Russian graduate student and self-proclaimed gun-rights advocate should serve as a wake-up call about the Kremlin’s brazen desire and ability to interfere with the American political system.Maria Butina, a 30-year-old native of Siberia, entered the plea Thursday in Washington, admitting she worked with a top Russian official, and two other Americans, to infiltrate U.S. conservative groups and the Republican Party for Russia…

Russian citizen Maria Butina was convicted in the U.S. recently for acting as an illegal foreign agent. Butina pleaded guilty to acting under the direction of a Russian official to establish relationships with influential Americans.

News of Whelan's detention came less than 24 hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a New Year's greeting to U.S. President Donald Trump in which he said Moscow is amenable to a continuing dialogue with Washington on a range of topics.

In 2016, Izvestia, a Kremlin-aligned news outlet, reported there were 13 U.S. citizens in Russian jails at the time. The Kremlin has not since published any details on other Americans currently in Russian detention.

Pete Cobus in Moscow contributed to this report.