An American citizen was apprehended during a “spying action” in Moscow, the Federal Security Service (FSB) said. He is currently being detained on suspicion of espionage.
FSB agents detained a US national named Paul Whelan on Friday during “a spying action,” the agency’s press office told TASS.
Criminal proceedings were launched against the man under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code, which covers the crime of espionage.
No details of the suspect’s identity or facts surrounding the operation were immediately disclosed.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the US Embassy in Moscow was notified of Whelan’s detention.
News of the American citizen’s arrest comes at a time of heightened tensions between the US and Russia. Washington has accused Moscow of meddling in its domestic affairs and of various spy activities.
In October, the US Ministry of Justice accused seven Russians of being GRU military intelligence officers, and charged them with hacking and committing wire fraud.
Four men belonging to that group were expelled from the Netherlands in April for allegedly attempting to hack the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Moscow denied all allegations, dismissing them as “spy mania.”
Earlier this month, a Moscow court sentenced former police officer Aleksey Zhitnyuk to 13 years in prison for providing classified data to a foreign national. The trial took place behind closed doors, and the details of the case remain unknown. However, according to media reports, he was suspected of being in contact with the CIA.
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