The remarks by Elizabeth Whelan, a sister of US citizen Paul Whelan accused in Russia of spying, that his detention was unlawful is disinformation, Russia’s Foreign Ministry wrote on Twitter on Saturday in a reply to the US embassy post, APA reports citing TASS.
Earlier in the day, the US embassy in Moscow tweeted citing Elizabeth Whelan who said her brother "Paul’s unlawful and continued detention is quite simply a violation of the fundamental rights of an American citizen."
"We agree. Let #PaulWhelan go home," the US embassy’s post on Twitter says.
"Elizabeth Whelan can talk to Alla Bout [the wife of Viktor Bout jailed in the United States - TASS] to share experiences. Regarding ‘unlawful’ detention, stop spreading disinformation," the Russian Foreign Ministry tweeted in a reply.
The Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out that Whelan had been caught red-handed, and listed the Russian nationals imprisoned in the United States.
"Paul Whelan was caught red-handed, unlike Maria Butina, Konstantin Yaroshenko, Victor Bout and other Russian citizens imprisoned in the US under false pretext. Should we remind you about their basic rights?" the ministry asked.
"Rights of Russian citizens were violated by the American law enforcement far away from the US soil, in contrast to Paul Whelan, who was caught red-handed in Russia," the ministry said.
Paul Whelan, 48, global security chief at BorgWarner, a Michigan-based automotive components company, was detained by Russian security officers on December 28, 2018, in Moscow while on a spy mission. A criminal investigation was opened against him on espionage charges carrying a punishment of up to 20 years in jail. Along with US citizenship, Whelan also holds British, Canadian and Irish passports.