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Paul Whelan, American held in Russia, officially charged with spying: Report

January 3, 2019

A former U.S. Marine detained on a visit to Moscow a week ago has been formally indicted on espionage charges, the Russian Interfax news service reported Thursday.

Citing what it said was an “informed source,” Interfax said Russian investigative agencies have moved ahead with an indictment against Paul Whelan, a top security officer for a Michigan-based auto parts company.

Mr. Whelan has been held since Dec. 28 in a case many see as a retaliation by the Kremlin for the espionage case brought by U.S. authorities against Russian national Maria Butina, who recently pleaded guilty to charges of acting as a Russian government agent in the U.S.

“An indictment has been presented. [Mr. Whelan] dismisses it,” the source reportedly told Interfax.

Mr. Whelan’s family has denied he was a U.S. spy, saying he was in Moscow over the holiday season to attend the wedding of a fellow Marine.

Mr. Whelan has not been heard from since his arrest, but U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman this week was allowed to visit him Wednesday at the notorious Lefortovo prison.

“We’ve made clear to the Russians our expectation that we will learn more about the charges,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Wednesday, adding that “if the detention is not appropriate, we will demand his immediate return.”

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