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MI man held for spying in Russian Federation was frequent visitor

MI man held for spying in Russian Federation was frequent visitor

He said there has been no official confirmation of a Russian press report claiming Paul Whelan was given a USB drive containing the names of people employed at a top secret state organisation.

"The reality is Paul and I were born in Canada to British parents", David Whelan said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

Russia's foreign ministry dismissed speculation that Mr Whelan could be swapped for Maria Butina, a 30-year-old... "We are extremely anxious about him and his family".

The twin brother of the American man being held in Moscow on alleged spying charges is urging the US government to help get his brother released.

Paul Whelan, a US citizen detained in Russian Federation for suspected spying, appears in a photo provided by the Whelan family.

The Marine Corps is providing details on the court-martial of an American man who has been detained by Russian Federation on spying charges.

Earlier this week, Whelan's Russian lawyer told ABC News he thinks there is a possibility his client will be exchanged for a Russian in USA custody.

Mr Whelan said his brother's arrest appeared to be "very arbitrary" and there was nothing to indicate he was a spy.

In recent months, the United States, Britain and Canada have been harmonizing their criticisms of Russian President Vladimir Putin for alleged acts of aggression and interference against the West.

Asked about reports he is also Irish, the Irish embassy in Moscow said: "The Embassy of Ireland in Moscow has requested consular access to an Irish citizen now detained in Russian Federation after receiving a request for assistance".

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The Foreign Secretary said that Paul Whelan, 48, who lives in MI but has joint UK-UK citizenship, was being given "every support that we can" after his status became clear.

Interfax said he added that "there is no connection" with the case and any Russian citizen in the US. Maria Butina, a pro-gun activist, pleaded guilty to trying to influence U.S. conservative groups on behalf of the Russian government.

Whelan is employed as head of security at the global auto parts firm BorgWarner based in MI, a spokesperson for the company said.

He has been visiting Russian Federation for business and pleasure for more than a decade, his brother said.

"Paul is a kind and considerate brother, son and uncle, and a generous and loyal friend", David Whelan wrote in The Washington Post on Friday.

Whelan reportedly doesn't speak Russian well and has been using a translator.

He said: "We are giving [Mr Whelan] every support that we can, but we don't agree with individuals being used in diplomatic chess games".

The Canadian foreign ministry said today that consular assistance is being provided by their nation as well, "and we are in contact with local authorities to gather further information". He was in Moscow to help plan the wedding of another former Marine because he had been to Russian Federation several times, his brother said.

During his military career, Whelan received awards that included the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, but he ran afoul of the military and was convicted in 2008 on larceny-related charges at a special court-martial.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week that Washington had asked Moscow to explain Whelan's arrest and would demand his immediate return if it determined his detention was inappropriate.