Russia formally charges American with spying

Russia formally charged former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan with espionage, the Interfax news agency reported on Thursday, citing an informed source. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Relatives have said Whelan, who is also a British citizen, was in Russia for a friend’s wedding when Russia’s FSB state security service detained him in Moscow a week ago.

Whelan’s lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, declined to comment on the charges but said Whelan was expected to remain in custody until at least Feb. 28. “I consider his detention and arrest baseless,” Zherebenkov said. “It’s based on investigators’ supposition that he will hinder the investigation process. We are asking for bail instead.”

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