American held in Russian Federation for spying is also British, Irish, Canadian

American held in Russian Federation for spying is also British, Irish, Canadian

Britain has cautioned Russian Federation that individuals should not be used as diplomatic pawns, after a former U.S. marine who also holds a British passport was detained in Moscow on espionage charges.

He was charged with espionage and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, Russian news agency Interfax reported Thursday.

Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs on January 4 confirmed that Whelan also holds Irish citizenship and said it was also requesting consular access to him in Moscow.

Whelan's British citizenship was reported by the US embassy to British officials on Thursday, according to Britain's Press Association.

The US ambassador said Washington complained to the Russian government about the length of time it took to grant consular access to Whelan after his arrest.

"We are extremely anxious about Paul Whelan".

Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB, arrested him December 28, and then waited several days before declaring it had snared Whelan in the middle of a spy mission.

Whelan is a former US Marine, who worked as a security director for BorgWarner, a major Michigan-based auto parts manufacturer.

The detention of Whelan comes weeks after Russian Maria Butina pleaded guilty in a USA court to acting as an agent for the Kremlin.

He added: "We are giving him every support that we can, but we don't agree with individuals being used in diplomatic chess games". It said it made the request "after receiving a request for assistance" from an Irish citizen detained in Moscow.

USA intelligence officials accuse Russian Federation of meddling in US elections - a charge Russian Federation denies.

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Earlier this week, NPR asked John Sipher, a former member of the CIA's Clandestine Service who worked in Moscow, whether Whelan fits the profile of an American spy working inside Russian Federation - to which Sipher replied, "Absolutely not".

The U.S. State Department said U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman visited Whelan at a detention facility in Moscow on January 2 and spoke by phone with his family. His brother David Whelan said their family was from the West Midlands.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week that the United States had asked Russian Federation to explain Whelan's arrest and would demand his immediate return if it determined his detention is inappropriate.

Whelan's arrest came two weeks after Russian gun-rights activist Maria Butina pleaded guilty in the United States to conspiring to act as a foreign agent by trying to infiltrate conservative circles and the National Rifle Association to influence USA politics.

Britain and Russia's relationship sharply deteriorated past year after a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, was poisoned in England with a nerve agent and spent months recovering. But he received a bad conduct discharge in 2008 on a charge of larceny - circumstances that were not previously known to his closest relatives, according to Whelan's twin brother.

Butina is a Russian gun activist, who was arrested in the United States in July and eventually pleaded guilty to working as a foreign agent without proper registration.

The news that Paul Whelan holds citizenship in four countries brings global pressure on Russian Federation from several fronts. The highest rank he attained was staff sergeant.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Sky News on Friday that the British government is trying to help Paul Whelan.

Britain alleges Skripal was poisoned by Russian intelligence agents posing as tourists, while Russia denies any involvement.

He said the family's "focus remains on ensuring that Paul is safe, well treated, has a good lawyer, and is coming home".

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