Russia claims that the former US Navy arrested in Moscow was accused of espionage in the act & # 39; to & # 39; illegal actions & # 39; at his hotel
- Marine veteran Paul Nicholas Whelan (48) was arrested on December 28th
- His brother said that he visited Russia to attend the wedding of a naval friend
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that Whelan was caught in the act & # 39; was to carry out illegal actions in his hotel, but failed to elaborate further
- Intelligence experts said that Moscow may have arrested Whelan as retaliation for the American arrest of Russian citizen Maria Butina
- She admitted that she was trying to infiltrate American conservative groups as an agent for Moscow
- Reports suggest that Whelan was detained after receiving a USB stick with a list of all employees of a secret Russian government agency
Leah Mcdonald for Dailymail.com
Russia has claimed that it caught the former US Navy Paul Whelan in the act of carrying out illegal activities in his hotel room in Moscow.
Whelan, a former US Navy that also has British, Canadian and Irish passports, was jailed by the Russian Federal Security Service on 28 December for espionage charges.
His family claims that he is innocent and that he was in Moscow to attend a wedding.
"He was caught red-handed", Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday at a press conference.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (left) claimed that the former US Navy Paul Whelan (right), who is being held up for espionage in Russia, was caught in the act & # 39;
& # 39; He was detained the moment he performed specific illegal actions in his hotel & # 39 ;.
Lavrov said the investigation into Mr. Whelan continued and his detention was not prompted by a desire to try to trade him for Russian citizens in the US.
He also said that Mr. Whelan's brother was in Moscow and had been informed of prison conditions, but David Whelan said to Reuters on Tuesday that such reports & # 39; false & # 39; goods.
Neither his parents nor his brothers and sisters fly to Russia, and we are not going to fly to Russia, & # 39; he said.
The press agency Interfax had quoted a lawyer for the Whelan family on Tuesday, saying they would make a visit like that.
The FSB opened a criminal case against Whelan, but did not give details about its alleged activities.
In Russia, a espionage conviction has a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years.
Intelligence experts have said that Moscow may have arrested Whelan as retaliation for the US arrest of a Russian citizen, Maria Butina, who admitted last month to US prosecutors that she had tried to infiltrate US conservative groups as agents for Moscow.
Whelan, 48, (photo) was arrested on December 28 when his brother said he was in the country to attend a friend's marriage
An overview of Whelan's social media activities showed that he had online contact with more than 20 Russians with a military background.
Russian men with military education or military service history make up almost half of Whelan's more than 50 friends on UK, a popular Russian social network that resembles Facebook, the analysis of Reuters shows.
At least 12 of his friends have undergone military training in Russian, according to open source information, and at least another 11 appear to have completed the national service.
The arrest has further tense relations between Moscow and Washington, which have been soured against Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, and subsequent economic sanctions and accusations of interference in the US presidential election.
Reports suggest that Whelan was detained after receiving a USB stick with a list of all employees of a secret Russian government agency
David Whelan (photo) refuted a Russian media report showing that his brother's family was planning to visit Russia to try to win his freedom
Whelan lives in Novi, Michigan, according to public records. He is director of global security at BorgWarner, an American manufacturer of automotive parts based in Michigan.
The Russian online news portal Rosbalt.ru quoted a nameless Russian intelligence source earlier this month saying that Whelan had a list of all employees of a secret Russian state agency five minutes after receiving a thumb drive.
The same source was quoted as saying that Whelan had been spying for ten years using the Internet to identify targets from whom he could obtain information and that the list of employees he was caught with had long been of interest to American spies.
Lavrov said that the investigation into Whelan was continued and that his detention was not motivated by the desire to exchange him for Russian citizens in the United States.
He said that Russia would allow American diplomats to visit Whelan for a second time and that an Irish diplomat would meet him soon.