American suspected of spying held by Russian intelligence in Moscow

American suspected of spying held by Russian intelligence in Moscow

Russian officials have arrested a US citizen supposedly caught in the act of spying in Moscow, the Federal Security Service of Russia said Monday.

Paul Whelan was arrested while "carrying out spying activities" December 28, according to the FSB statement cited by The Wall Street Journal.

The move is largely seen as retribution for the USA arrest and conviction of Russian national Maria Butina for espionage.

If found guilty, he faces between 10 and 20 years in jail.

The state Tass news agency identified the detained man as Paul Whelan. It said it was pushing for consular access to the detained American.

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According to BBC, the U.S. Department of State confirmed that Moscow notified them of the alleged arrest, but did not confirm the arrest or the man's name.

Further details about the case could not be provided because of privacy concerns, the press officer said.

American authorities detained and charged Russian national Maria Butina with spying earlier this year.

In the past, Russian Federation has arrested foreigners with the aim of trading prisoners with other countries.

Putin said Butina was not under the direction of the Russian government or its agencies and she only confessed to avoid a longer prison term.

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