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News - Miscellaneous - 4 Jan 2019

News Item 25 of 1329 

Miscellaneous: 4 Jan 2019
Russia warned not to use people as 'pawns' as ex-U.S. marine born in Canada held on spying charges

Paul Whelan, a Canadian-born former U.S. marine with British citizenship, has been detained in Russia on espionage charges. (Submitted by the Whelan family/Associated Press)

Britain cautioned Russia on Friday that individual citizens should be not used as pawns in a diplomatic chess game after Paul Whelan, a dual U.S.-U.K. national who was born in Canada, was detained in Moscow on espionage charges.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was extremely worried about Whelan, who was detained by Russia's FSB state security service in Moscow a week ago on suspicion of spying.

"Individuals should not be used as pawns of diplomatic leverage [or] being used in diplomatic chess games," Hunt said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this week the United States had asked Russia to explain Whelan's arrest and would demand his immediate return if it determines his detention is inappropriate.

U.S. ambassador meets with Ottawa-born man arrested in Russia on spying charges

"We are extremely worried about Paul Whelan. We have offered consular assistance," Hunt said. "The U.S. are leading on this because he is a British and American citizen."

Whelan was born in Ottawa in 1970 but moved in the early 1970s to the United States, where he has lived ever since. His brother, David, who lives in Canada, could not confirm to CBC News whether his brother was still a Canadian citizen.

Global Affairs Canada said: "Consular officials are aware that a Canadian citizen has been arrested in Russia. Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, no further information can be disclosed."


The FSB has opened a criminal case against Whelan, but has not given any details of his alleged espionage activities.

Whelan's family has said he was visiting Moscow for the wedding of a retired marine and is innocent of the espionage charges against him.

Asked if other Britons in Russia should be concerned about their safety in Russia, Hunt replied "this is something that is under active consideration and we're constantly reviewing our travel advice in all parts of the world.

"If we see the need to make a change, then we'll make it."

With files from CBC News

Thomson Reuters /CBC News/Twitter/AA
 

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