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Secretary of State Pompeo Demands Immediate Return of Detained American in Russia

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has issued a demand for Russia to release the American citizen who was arrested last week amid allegations of espionage.

Paul Whelan drew international attention over the last few days as his family protested his arrest and refuted Russia’s claim that he was in the country working as a spy. Pompeo is in Brazil today for the inauguration of president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, and when he took questions at one point, he called for Whelan’s release.

“With respect to Mr. We Whelan, we are hopeful within the next hours we will get consulate access to see him, to get a chance to learn more. We have made it clear to the Russians our expectation that we will learn more about the charges and come to understand what it is he has been accused of, and if the detention is not appropriate we will demand his immediate return.”

Ever since Whelan’s arrest, his family has insisted that the former U.S. Marine was in Moscow to attend a wedding. CBS reports that if convicted of espionage, Whelan could face two decades in prison.

“He has a law enforcement background. He was a former U.S. Marine who served a number of tours in Iraq. He does corporate security,” Whelan’s brother David said to CBS in his defense. “It’s the sort of personality you wouldn’t expect to be a lawbreaker of any sort. Let alone someone who’s breaking spy laws.”

Watch above, via CNN.

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