NEW YORK, December 12. /TASS/. Relatives of US citizen Paul Whelan, who is in Russian custody on espionage charges, regret that at talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Michal Pompeo failed to defend Whelan, though his case was touched upon.
"Unfortunately, Secretary Pompeo did not defend Paul. There was no attempt to rebut these allegations during the press conference, even though State Department staff at the Embassy had done so the previous week. It is frustrating to see the Russian government able to make false statements about our brother, in the White House, and have no-one in the American government display the courage to defend the truth," his brother David said in a statement for the media circulated on Thursday.
Whelan’s family question the fact that he had threatened employees of Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service, referring to statements from his lawyer.
Sergey Lavrov told reporters at a news conference after talks with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo that espionage suspect Paul Whelan was behaving insolently and making threats to the employees of Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service. "Paul Whelan has been acting defiantly. He has been making threats to FPS employees, saying he would bore into their heads with a drill, and expressing other arrogant statements," he stated.
US citizen Paul Whelan, 48, who also holds British, Canadian and Irish citizenship, is a global security chief at BorgWarner, a Michigan-based automotive components company. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said Whelan was detained on December 28, 2018 in Moscow while on an alleged spy mission. A criminal investigation was launched against him on espionage charges carrying a punishment of anywhere from 10 to 20 years behind bars.