Russian Federation arrests U.S. citizen on suspicion of espionage


Russia's domestic security agency says it has arrested a United States citizen on espionage charges.

The agency identified the man as Paul Whelan.

The FSB, which said the American had been detained on December 28, added that a criminal case had been opened against him.

If convicted of espionage, Whelan faces up to 20 years in jail.

American authorities detained and charged Russian national Maria Butina with spying earlier this year.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke out about the case on December 20, saying he didn't understand why Butina was detained and that he would support her. No other details were immediately available.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, the White House or U.S. State Department.

The detention of Whelan comes weeks after a Russian woman pleaded guilty in a US court to acting as an agent for the Kremlin.

The arrest came with Moscow embroiled in a number of spy scandals with the West and after President Vladimir Putin accused Western nations of using espionage cases to try undermine an increasingly powerful Russian Federation.

In his annual year-end news conference on December 20, Putin said Russian Federation would "not arrest innocent people simply to exchange them for someone else later on".

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