The American former marine who is being held in Moscow on spying charges also holds British, Irish and Canadian citizenship. Britain's foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, charged on Friday January 4th that Russia is trying to use him as a pawn in its geopolitical games.
The news that Paul Whelan holds citizenship in four countries brings international diplomatic pressure on Russia from several fronts. Britain, Ireland, and Canada have all requested that their diplomats be allowed to visit him in detention, as has the US ambassador.
Whelan, the 48-year-old global security director for a US auto parts company, was arrested on December 28th in Moscow. At the time, he was identified only as an American.
Russian authorities have released no information about the charges against Whelan, who could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of spying.