As I previously reported here at Townhall, a United States citizen who has now been identified as Paul Whelan, has been detained by the Russian Federal Security Service and said to be caught “during an espionage operation.”
His twin brother is now speaking up on background regarding his brother's trip, who was a former U.S. Marine. David asserted in many TV interviews early Wednesday that his brother was in Russia to attend a wedding. David Whelan has also shared that this family was told by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow that they have not been able to speak to Paul since his arrest.
Paul's brother claims he was a frequent traveler to Moscow and the last time anyone heard from him was around 5 p.m. when he failed to show up that evening for the wedding.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said the United States intends to learn more about the charges and will demand his immediate return “if the detention is not appropriate.”
Pompeo continues in part stating that the U.S. has “made clear to the Russians our expectation that we will learn more about the charges and come to understand what it is he’s been accused of and if the detention is not appropriate we will demand his immediate return.”
“We are hopeful within the next hours we will get consular access” to see Paul Whelan, the US citizen detained in Russia on suspicion of spying, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says https://t.co/yTDSZ0m4zK pic.twitter.com/qF6bQKIDwS— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 2, 2019
I just spoke to the brother of American Citizen Paul Whelan who was detained in Russia Friday on espionage charges. His twin brother David tells me no chance his brother was a U.S. spy in Russia. Watch: pic.twitter.com/OLadOndUgd— Poppy Harlow (@PoppyHarlowCNN) January 1, 2019
#BREAKING @CBCNews just spoke with David Whelan, whose brother Paul, an American who was born in Canada, is under arrest in Russia, accused of espionage. David says they haven't been able to speak to Paul yet. We find out what happens next for the Whelan family. pic.twitter.com/TXaqNH8NMj— Natasha Fatah?? (@NatashaFatah) January 1, 2019
David Whelan released the following statement on behalf of his family via Twitter.
He stated in part that, “We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being. His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected.”
My brother was detained by the Russian government on Friday as an alleged spy. While the law library + info focus will remain, you may see an increase in off-message topics until we get him safely home. pic.twitter.com/2HIF1UmS1b— David Whelan (@davidpwhelan) January 1, 2019
David Whelan told CNN today,“I don’t think there’s any chance that he’s a spy.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. hopes to gain access soon to a former Marine arrested in Russia on espionage charges. Pompeo says if Paul Whelan’s detention is inappropriate “we will demand his immediate return.” https://t.co/R37DqDbgr9— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) January 2, 2019
"Russia is allowing U.S. consular officials to speak to Paul Whelan," reported NPR late Wednesday.
If found "guilty" by Russia of the accused charges, Whelan could face a prison sentence of up to 20 years.