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Russia Allows US Officials to Meet with American Held on Espionage Charges 

01-02-2019
This undated photo provided by the Whelan family shows Paul Whelan in Iceland. Whelan, a former U.S. Marine arrested in Russia on espionage charges, was visiting Moscow over the holidays to attend a wedding when he suddenly disappeared. Via AP.
This undated photo provided by the Whelan family shows Paul Whelan in Iceland. Whelan, a former U.S. Marine arrested in Russia on espionage charges, was visiting Moscow over the holidays to attend a wedding when he suddenly disappeared. Via AP.

The Russian government said Wednesday that it has allowed an American citizen held on espionage charges to have access to U.S. officials seeking answers about his arrest. 

Paul Whelan, 48, a former Marine and head of global security for a Michigan-based auto parts supplier, was arrested by Russian authorities Friday. 

Whelan was in Moscow attending a wedding when he disappeared.  

While announcing the arrest three days later, the Russian Security Service said Whelan was caught "during an espionage operation," but gave no details. 

Now Russia has granted US consular officials access to Whelan for the first time since his arrest. 
 
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, "If the detention is not appropriate, we will demand his immediate return." 

Pompeo said the Trump administration 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."

Whelan's family, in a statement that Whelan's brother David posted on Twitter, said: "We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being. His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected."

Whelan's brother also said Paul had visited Russia several times.  A friend who had served in the US Marine Corps with Paul was planning a wedding in Moscow and he was asked to go along to help out. 

The Russian spying charges carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

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