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Russia Postpones Paul Whelan Prison Visit by U.S. Embassy Officials

Paul Whelan, the American jailed in Moscow on espionage charges, was expecting a prison visit from U.S. embassy officials on Thursday. Instead, he got an interrogation by the FSB, the Russian security service. Whelan’s brother David said in an email that he was “disappointed” that the scheduled visit was postponed. “We had hoped to continue to have an opportunity to exchange additional information with Paul,” he wrote. Consular officials from Ireland, where Whelan has dual citizenship, did visit him on Wednesday, the brother said. Whelan’s Russian lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, told the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta that his client was questioned by the FSB for several hours Thursday. “Unfortunately I cannot tell you what it was about, since I have signed a nondisclosure agreement concerning all details of the investigation,” the lawyer said.

Whelan—a security executive who was bounced from the Marines on a court-martial—was arrested Dec. 28 in Moscow. His family says he was there for a friend’s wedding and is not a spy. Russian media, citing intelligence sources, has claimed that he was caught in a hotel room with a flash drive that contained named of government officials. Former CIA officials have suggested that Whelan was arrested as revenge for the U.S. prosecution of Russia activist Maria Butina and to force a possible swap.

— Anna Nemtsova