Russian Federation detains USA citizen suspected of spying

Russian security agency arrests 'US spy' in Moscow

Officials who work for Russia's domestic security agency reported late Friday, on Russian run state media, that they have arrested a USA citizen on espionage charges.

Paul Whelan was arrested while "carrying out spying activities" December 28, according to the FSB statement cited by The Wall Street Journal.

News of the detention comes shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia is "open to dialogue" with the USA in a holiday message to President Donald Trump on Sunday.

If found guilty, he faces between 10 and 20 years in jail, Russia's Tass news agency reports.

The announcement comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow remained open to dialogue with Washington in a New Year's greeting to U.S. President Donald Trump. A spokesperson told Reuters, "We have requested this access and expect Russian authorities to provide it".

A Russian national, Maria Butina, was also convicted in the United States for acting as an illegal foreign agent. While there is no apparent connection between her case and Mr. Whelan's, in the past, Russian authorities have arrested foreigners with an eye toward trading prisoners with other countries.

Alexander Mikhailov, a retired FSB officer, said the arrest reflected the effectiveness of Russian counterintelligence. Butina said in court that she'd been operating as a Kremlin agent as she befriended National Rifle Association leaders and influential US conservatives.

Russia's relations with the United States have been strained due to the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Moscow's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

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