MOSCOW, January 22. /TASS/. British diplomats are waiting for a response from Russia’s Foreign Ministry to a request for providing consular access to Paul Whelan detained on espionage charges, the UK Embassy in Moscow told TASS on Tuesday.
"We have been waiting up to now for a response from Russia’s Foreign Ministry with regard to getting access to Paul Whelan. We are acting within the framework of the Vienna Convention on consular relations and we are in contact with the ministry for getting the quickest access," the embassy said.
The presence of consular officials at hearings in such cases is "standard practice under the convention," the embassy said.
At his annual news conference held in January to sum up the results of 2018, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the UK embassy had not requested consular access to Whelan who holds the passports of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Ireland.
In turn, the British diplomatic mission said that London had sent an official request.
According to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Whelan was detained in Moscow on December 28, 2018, 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.
On January 2, US Ambassador to Moscow Jon Huntsman visited Whelan in the Lefortovo pre-trial detention center.