Moscow's Lefortovo Court has received an appeal against the detention of Paul Whelan, a multinational citizen who was recently arrested in Russian Federation on espionage charges, spokeswoman for the court Yekaterina Krasnova told Sputnik on Thursday.
When Paul Whelan was arrested in December, he was identified only as an American. "The date of consideration has not been fixed", said Yekaterina Krasnova, a spokeswoman for the court. The FSB Investigative Department opened an investigation under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code (espionage), which carries a punishment of ten to 20 years in prison.
The Kremlin was responding to comments from Britain and Canada, which have both expressed concern that Whelan, who also holds Canadian, British and Irish citizenship, could have been arrested as a political bargaining chip.
Whelan's lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, told ABC News that any trade in any case could only occur once Whelan has been convicted, which he said would likely take six months to a year. US intelligence and State Department sources have told CBS News they're confident Whelan is not a spy.
Whelan's family says the reservist, who served two tours in Iraq in 2004 and 2006, was in Russia to attend the wedding of a fellow former United States service member and a Russian woman.
Ambassador Huntsman met Whelan at the Lefortovo Detention Facility, and the prisoner's family thanked him for staying in "regular contact" with Whelan and assuring his "rights will be respected".
Whelan is no stranger to the country. A photo shows him standing across the Moscow River from the Kremlin.
Whelan, a MI resident, has had a career in corporate security, his brother said, including at automotive components supplier BorgWarner since 2017.