REPORT: Curious picture emerges of American arrested on espionage charges in Russia

JANUARY 10, 2019

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Russia’s arrest of U.S. citizen Paul Whelan on espionage charges represents a new flashpoint in an increasingly hostile relationship between Washington and Moscow.

Former officials and experts see Paul Whelan as a pawn in a larger geopolitical fight that has only intensified with the recent indictments of Russians by the United States. The Kremlin has accused Paul Whelan of spying but has offered few specifics about the circumstances of his arrest, the news of which broke on New Year’s Eve.

The article goes on to state the following:

Since then, a curious picture has emerged in the media of a former Marine and avid traveler who built a network of contacts in Russia through social media and journeyed there several times since 2006.

Former officials say he does not fit the mold of someone recruited to spy on behalf of the U.S. More likely, they say, his detention was orchestrated in retribution for the guilty plea of Maria Butina, who admitted last month to being a Russian foreign agent infiltrating conservative organizations in the U.S. Some have suggested Russia could be setting the stage for a prisoner exchange for Butina, harkening back to the Soviet era.

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