The United States secretary of state Mike Pompeo has on Wednesday, asked for an explanation over detention of a former US marine in Russia over spying charges in Moscow and demanded his immediate return if his detention determines to be inappropriate.
According to news reports, the US state department said that the US ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has visited the detained man, Paul Whelan, in Russia at a detention facility and spoke to his family via phone call.
In an official statement, the state department said through diplomatic channels, the US has expressed concerns over delayed consular access to Whelan, who was detained in Moscow on Friday.
While attending inauguration of Brazilian president on Tuesday, Pompeo said: “We’ve made clear to the Russians our expectation that we will learn more about the charges, come to understand what it is he’s been accused of and if the detention is not appropriate, we will demand his immediate return.”
The Russian FSB state security has opened a case against Whelan but did not gave any further details over his detention. Under the Russian law, espionage can lead to imprisonment for 10-20 years.
In a statement, Whelan’s family said, “His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected.”
According to reports provided by the Pentagon, Whelan has sever the US marine corps reserves from May 10, 1994 to December 2, 2008.