WASHINGTON, January 2. /TASS/. US national Paul Whelan, detained in Moscow on suspicion of espionage, was discharged from the US Marines on larceny charges, The Washington Post said.
"He enlisted in the Marines in 1994 and rose through the ranks to become a staff sergeant, serving two tours in Iraq, in 2004 and 2006, according to military records released to The Post. Whelan was discharged for bad conduct in 2008 after being convicted of several charges related to larceny, according to the records," the newspaper wrote.
According to the Washington Post, "Whelan works as the corporate security director for BorgWarner, an automotive parts supplier based in Auburn Hills, Mich., that has business contracts in Russia." Paul Whelan’s brother David said that he was responsible for physical security issues.
The Washington post added, citing "Whelan’s brother and Russian acquaintances" that "he has been visiting Russia since 2007." "Several Russian acquaintances described Whelan as a friendly man who greatly appreciated Russia and had a basic command of the language."
Whelan’s brother said that Paul had arrived in Russia to attend the wedding of a fellow former Marine and a Russian woman.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Monday that Whelan had been detained in Moscow on December 28 while on a spy mission. The FSB Investigative Department opened an investigation under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code (espionage), which carries a punishment of ten to 20 years in prison. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the US embassy in Moscow had been notified about Whelan’s detention in accordance with the bilateral consular convention.
According to the US State Department, diplomats have requested consular access to the detained. The Washington Post pointed out that the Vienna Convention "dictates that consular access must be provided within a 72-hour window from the time of arrest" but "US government shutdown may have hindered this process, said a person familiar with Whelan’s case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case." "The person added that it could take months before the case is resolved," the paper said.