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Paul Whelan, former Marine arrested in Moscow, granted U.S. consular access, Russia says

January 2, 2019

Russia has granted consular access to Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen arrested in Moscow last week, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson, said that U.S. consular officials were allowed to see Mr. Whelan on Wednesday afternoon, CNN reported.

The U.S. State Department did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Mr. Whelan, a 48-year-old former Marine from Michigan, was arrested last Friday, Dec. 28, “during an espionage operation,” Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) announced Monday. No further details about the allegations have been released.

Mike Pompeo, President Trump’s secretary of state, said earlier Wednesday that the U.S. was “hopeful” about being granted consular access to Mr. Whelan “within the next hours.”

“We have made clear to the Russians our expectation that we will learn more about the charges, come to understand what it is he’s been accused of and if the detention is not appropriate, we will demand his immediate return,” Mr. Pompeo told reporters in Brazil.

Mr. Whelan was in Moscow at the time of his arrest to attend a wedding between a fellow former U.S. service member and a Russian woman, according to his family.

“We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being,” his brother, David Whelan, wrote on Twitter. “His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected.”

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