Russia's FSB security service announced on New Year's Eve that 48-year-old Paul Whelan was arrested in Moscow 'during a spy action.'
NEW YORK – U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Huntsman visited detained American Paul Whelan in Moscow on Wednesday, days after the 48-year-old corporate security expert was detained and charged with espionage.
The Russian government has said little about the circumstances surrounding Whelan’s December 28 arrest. In a brief statement in Russian on New Year’s Eve, the country’s FSB security agency described Whelan as being arrested “during a spy action,” but offered no further details.
In a statement to the press, Whelan’s family said he was visiting Russia “to attend a wedding” and maintained that “his innocence is undoubted.” That statement went on to note the family’s concern for Whelan’s “safety and well-being.”
My brother was detained by the Russian government on Friday as an alleged spy. While the law library + info focus will remain, you may see an increase in off-message topics until we get him safely home. pic.twitter.com/2HIF1UmS1b
— David Whelan (@davidpwhelan) January 1, 2019
A State Department spokesperson who announced Huntsman’s visit to the Lefortovo Detention Facility omitted mention of Whelan’s well-being, saying only that the U.S. government had “expressed our concern about the delay in consular access through diplomatic channels.”
During official travel in Brazil, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. was monitoring Whelan’s situation and, “if the detention is not appropriate, we will demand his immediate return.”