British warning: UK warns Russia against 'chess games' over alleged spy

Frederick Owens
January 8, 2019

Britain cautioned Russian Federation on Friday that individual citizens should be not used as pawns in a diplomatic chess game after a dual U.S./UK national was detained in Moscow on espionage charges.

"We are extremely anxious about Paul Whelan".

Mr Whelan is a retired US Marine who has British citizenship through his parents.

US corporate security executive and former Marine who has been jailed in Moscow on spying charges has spent more than a decade cultivating friends and contacts in Russian Federation, both virtual and real. "At the same time, the Russian Embassy in Washington learned about what happened to him not from the American law enforcement agencies, but from his relatives".

On Thursday, Whelan, security chief for global auto parts manufacturer BorgWarner, was formally charged with espionage and could face 20 years in prison.

Both Britain and Ireland are now seeking consular access to Whelan, who is being held in a detention facility on the outskirts of Moscow.

The brother of a former US Marine held in Russian Federation on an apparent espionage charge fears he could be kept in jail for up to two years and has urged the British Government to "keep an eye on him".

Ms Butina initially pleaded not guilty.

Speaking about the situation around Whelan, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that there were no talks about a possible swap of the detained United States national as no charges against him have been brought so far.

"Individuals should not be used as pawns of diplomatic leverage", Hunt said Friday.

"It is desperately worrying, not just for the individual, but their families and we are extremely anxious about him and his family as we hear this news". And on Wednesday, the USA confirmed its ambassador in Moscow had been to visit the American in detention.

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"He has British citizenship".

The US Embassy in Moscow advised the British Embassy on Thursday that a US citizen detained on 28 December informed them he also holds British citizenship.

Asked about Whelan, Canadian Global Affairs spokesman Richard Walker said "consular officials are aware that a Canadian citizen had been arrested in Russian Federation".

But in an interview with AFP, David Whelan said they have faith that the U.S. government will be able to bring his brother home. "Our focus remains on ensuring that Paul is safe, well-treated, has a good lawyer and is coming home".

The United States is also now holding Maria Butina, a Russian citizen who pled guilty to espionage last month and co-operated with prosecutors over her attempts to infiltrate right-wing groups, including the National Rifle Association.

Russia demands from Washington explanations as to the reasons behind the arrest of Russian national Dmitry Makarenko, the Foreign Ministry said in a commentary.

Meanwhile, Russia announced on Saturday that the U.S.is holding a Russian national, but a top Russian official quickly dismissed any talk of a detainee exchange. I think that's what they're doing here.

Documents at the time of indictment said Makarenko, who the USA said lived in the Pacific city of Vladivostok, would order items such as night-vision scopes - which are subject to a license - and have them shipped to an associate in Florida, Vladimir Nevidomy, who then sent them on to Makarenko, sometimes concealed in household goods shipments.

British authorities have blamed Russian Federation for carrying out the attack - an assertion Moscow denies.

Britain accused Russia of being behind the attack despite Moscow's denials, and coordinated the expulsions of dozens of Russian diplomatic staff around the world. The Russian government has so far given no details about the allegations against him, but a close look at his social media history suggests why he might have come to the attention of the Russian security services, regardless of his motives.

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