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Twin brother of Novi man accused of spying in Russia: He’s innocent

David Whelan cannot agree with the Russian government’s declaration that his dual brother, Paul N. Whelan, is an undercover agent.

“I simply can’t see him breaking legal guidelines in America, let alone going to a country that might be extra tough to navigate if he broke the regulation, and honestly now not breaking a law of espionage,” David Whelan stated.

In a telephone interview with the Free Press from his domestic in Newmarket, Ontario, David Whelan defined his brother as a retired Marine who once worked as a police officer in Chelsea for the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department, in safety at Troy-based totally Kelly Services, and for the Auburn-Hills based totally auto supplier BorgWarner.

Paul Whelan, forty-eight, of Novi was arrested Friday “in Moscow while on an undercover agent challenge,” Russian government stated. He is below criminal investigation for espionage and has been detained, according to an assertion issued Monday by means of the Russian Federal Security Service, known as the FSB.

David Whelan said they grew up within the Ann Arbor area and graduated in 1988 from Huron High School. Paul Whelan served multiple tours in Iraq with the Marines, in no way married and by no means had children. He doted on the circle of relatives’ golden retriever, Flora.Image result for Twin brother of Novi man accused of spying in Russia: He's innocent

Paul N. Whelan, 48, of Novi become arrested Dec. 28, 2018, through the Russian authorities and accused of espionage. His circle of relatives insists he is innocent, saying he becomes detained by mistake. In this undated photo, he’s seen keeping a family canine.
Paul N. Whelan, forty-eight, of Novi became arrested Dec. 28, 2018, by means of the Russian authorities and accused of espionage. His circle of relatives insists he is innocent, announcing he became detained with the aid of mistake. In this undated picture, he is visible maintaining an own family dog. (Photo: Whalen family photograph)

He defined his brother as “a completely type individual. He’s very generous with his time; he is funny. He’s a gregarious sort of person.”

Being generous together with his time is how Paul Whelan ended up in Russia in past due December, David Whelan said. He turned into there to assist a chum who was about to get married, his brother stated. The two guys had served in the Marines collectively.

“He loves to travel and he’s been to Russia on both private visits and for work,” David Whelan said. “And the pal requested if Paul could come and assist due to the fact his own family became going to Russia and hadn’t had a variety of enjoying there. Paul turned into there to help people tour the buildings and get around what may be a hard united state to navigate.”

Paul Whelan arrived in Russia on Dec. 22 and had planned to help the wedding celebration in Moscow via Tuesday. After that, David Whelan stated, his brother became scheduled to tour to St. Petersburg earlier than returning domestic to Michigan on Jan. 6.

“What warned us was that my mother and father hadn’t heard from him as of remaining Friday,” David Whelan said. “They could have predicted photos from the marriage or a comply with-up on how the canine’s vet go to had long gone. It changed into simply all of sudden truly silent.”

David Whelan tweeted Tuesday morning that the own family “discovered of his arrest on Monday morning after his detention was picked up on newswires and have contacted congressional representatives, the U.S. Embassy, and the State Department. We are deeply worried about his safety and nicely-being. His innocence is undoubted and we agree that his rights may be respected.”

View photograph on Twitter
View photograph on Twitter

David Whelan
@davidpwhelan
My brother changed into detained with the aid of the Russian government on Friday as an alleged secret agent. While the regulation library + info awareness will remain, you could see a growth in off-message topics until we get him effectively domestic.Image result for Twin brother of Novi man accused of spying in Russia: He's innocent

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Paul Whelan’s arrest comes only a few weeks after Russian national Maria Butina agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors; she pleaded responsible to conspiring to act as an agent for the Kremlin after running for years to infiltrate American political businesses, which include the National Rifle Association.

Although some have speculated his arrest might be an attempt by using the Russians to orchestrate a trade — Butina for Paul Whelan — his brother is not willing to presume that is what is at play.

“People have searched for conspiracies and matters or connections to Ms Butina,” he stated. “But on the give up of the day, it’s simply tough to know.

An undated handout image of Maria Butina made to be had
An undated handout image of Maria Butina made to be had through the Press Service of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation. (Photo: Press Service of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation thru EPA-life)

“I think every so often the geopolitical spectrum is lots extra complicated than that form of alternate-off. That may be what it becomes, but we’re attempting not to awareness on what the explanation might be, and are simply looking to get him domestic.”

More: Novi businessman, forty-eight, accused of ‘secret agent project’ in Russia

More: Maria Butina pleads guilty to conspiracy as an agent of Russia in the USA

More: ‘Does not healthy any spy’: What made accused Maria Butina special

The Russian assertion of Paul Whelan’s arrest came at some point after President Vladimir Putin released a holiday greeting to President Donald Trump that careworn the importance of Russia-U.S. Relations in “making sure strategic balance and worldwide protection.” The one-sentence message additionally “reaffirmed that Russia is open to speaking with America on the maximum full-size agenda.”

U.S.-Russian family members were battered by way of controversy in spite of Trump’s common reward of Putin. Scores of Russian diplomats had been expelled this year in response to the poisoning of a former Russian secret agent in Britain that become connected to the Kremlin.

 

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