he family of Paul Whelan, a retired U.S. Marine recently detained on espionage charges in Russia is insisting on his innocence, saying he was abroad only for a wedding when he was taken into custody on Friday.
David Whelan, who identified himself as Paul Whelan’s brother, posted a statement on Twitter on Tuesday that said his brother abruptly fell off his family’s radar on Dec. 28, which was “very much out of character for him.”
“We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being. His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected,” the statement read.
There were no further updates on his condition as of Tuesday evening, Paul Whelan told HuffPost in an email.
The Russian Federal Security Service, Russia’s security agency, confirmed Whelan’s arrest in a statement that accused him of conducting a “spy mission” while in Moscow, according to a translation by NPR.
An espionage conviction in Russia can carry a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years, Reuters reported.