On Security

The Curious Story of an American Arrested by the Kremlin

Scott Stewart
VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor
Jan 8, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) addresses senior officers of the Federal Security Service during an annual meeting of top officials of the service in Moscow on Feb. 14, 2013.

President Vladimir Putin (left) addresses senior officers of the Federal Security Service during an annual meeting of top officials of the service in Moscow on Feb. 14, 2013.

(MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

The holiday season was less than merry for one Paul Whelan. On Dec. 28, 2018, the U.S. citizen (and bearer of additional passports from Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom) was arrested by officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in his room at Moscow's Metropol Hotel. His family said the former Marine was in Moscow to play tour guide for the family of a fellow service member who was marrying a Russian woman, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Russians, naturally, have a different story. For them, Whelan is an intelligence officer who was using "non-standard methods for intelligence gathering," as well as social media to target Russians with access to classified information. In fact, the FSB claimed they arrested Whelan shortly after a contact gave him a flash drive that contained a list of employees at a classified Russian government agency. The Western press was quick to...

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