Russian authorities have detained an American citizen over accusations of spying, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.
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In a short statement, the agency notes Russia’s Federal Security Service detained a US citizen named Paul Whelan in Moscow on Friday.
“On December 28, in Moscow, officers of the FSB of Russia detained a US citizen Paul Whelan during a spy’ action,” Interfax’s message reads. “The Russian Federal Security Service investigation department opened a criminal case against a US citizen under article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code (espionage).”
It provided no further details.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, article 276, titled Espionage, reads, “Transfer, and also collection, theft, or keeping for the purpose of transfer to a foreign state, a foreign organisation, or their representatives of information constituting a state secret, and also transfer or collection of other information under the order of a foreign intelligence service, to the detriment of the external security of the Russian Federation, if these deeds have been committed by a foreign national or a stateless person, Shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of 10 to 20 years.”
The U.S. and Russia have been engaged in long-standing animosity with each other over several different issues, including the war in Syria, the poisoning of Russian critics in the U.K., conflict in Crimea and the years-long Mueller investigation over Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Indictments have been brought against over a dozen Russian nationals by Mueller.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.