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Whelan charged with spying for US in Russia, attorney says

March 14, 12:44 UTC+3 MOSCOW

On February 22, Moscow’s Lefortovo Court extended Whelan’s custody until May 28

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Paul Whelan

Paul Whelan

© AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov

MOSCOW, March 14. /TASS/. Investigators of the Russian Federal Security Service believe that citizen of the United States and multiple other countries Paul Whelan, charged with espionage in Russia, gathered secret information for Washington, his attorney Vladimir Zherebenkov told TASS.

"The FSB believes that my client Paul Whelan gathered information for US special services," the attorney said.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said Paul Whelan was detained in Moscow "while he was on a spy mission." The FSB Investigative Department opened a criminal case under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code (espionage), which carries a punishment of 10 to 20 years in prison. Whelan holds citizenship of the US, UK, Ireland and Canada.

On February 22, Moscow’s Lefortovo Court extended Whelan’s custody until May 28. On Thursday, the Moscow City Court is due to consider the attorney’s complaint against the extended custody.

Earlier, the attorney said his client had received secret data on a flash card, while expecting to get open source information of cultural importance.

Whelan, 48, is corporate security director for US automotive parts supplier BorgWarner. According to the Washington Post, he enlisted in the US Marines in 1994 and "rose through the ranks to become a staff sergeant, serving two tours in Iraq, in 2004 and 2006." However, Whelan "was discharged for bad conduct in 2008 after being convicted of several charges related to larceny."

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