Russian Security Service, the FSB arrested a US citizen on suspicions of spying on December 28th. The announcement was made by the FSB on December 31st.
The American – Paul Whelan was arrested in Moscow “while carrying out an act of espionage.”
“The investigation department of the Federal Security Service of Russia initiated a criminal case against a US citizen under article 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The investigation is underway,” the statement read. Article 276 is espionage.
Article 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation sets forth that for proven espionage the conviction may be a prison sentence between 10 to 20 years.
“Article 276. Espionage
Transfer, and also collection, theft, or keeping for the purpose of transfer to a foreign state, a foreign organization, or their representatives of information constituting a state secret, and also transfer or collection of other information under the order of a foreign intelligence service, to the detriment of the external security of the Russian Federation, if these deeds have been committed by a foreign national or a stateless person, shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of 10 to 20 years.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry formally notified the US of the detention of the alleged agent, US State Department confirmed.
“We have been formally notified of the detention by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Russia’s obligations under the Vienna Convention require them to provide consular access. We have requested this access and expect Russian authorities to provide it,” a State Department spokesperson was cited by the Business Insider.
The spokesperson added, “Due to privacy considerations, we have no additional information to provide at this time.”
“I’m sure our Federal Security Service has been working a long way, followed this citizen and revealed that he is engaged in espionage. And such people should be delayed,” said Sergey Tsekov, a member of the committee on international affairs of the Federation Council.
Major-General Alexander Mikhailov, a retired FSB officer, said the arrest reflected the effectiveness of Russian counterintelligence.
He furthermore anticipated the possible outcry by the West and MSM to reinforce the narrative of Russian aggression and spying.
“Now, we have to wait for the US answer. It is possible that cries will begin about violations of the rights of their citizen and so on. But if our counterintelligence did not have solid evidence it wouldn’t have made this information public.”
He also emphasized that the “confrontation” of the US and Russian security services has never led to an open confrontation between the countries in the past and he hopes that it would continue that way.
Earlier in December, Russian National Maria Butina pleaded guilty in a US court a conspiracy charge in a deal with prosecutors, and admitted to working with a top Russian official to infiltrate American conservative activist groups and politicians as an agent for Moscow.
MSM presented Butina as a spy, reinforcing the Russian spying narrative, while she was a lobbyist, similarly to many Israeli and Saudi Arabian lobbyists, who also conduct the business as “agents of a foreign country.”
Maria Butina, 30, is the first and only Russian national convicted of seeking to influence U.S. policy in the run-up to the 2016 election by acting as a foreign agent. She faces a possible maximum prison sentence of 5 years.