Kremlin says it will not use detained ex-US marine Paul Whelan as pawn

Paul Whelan. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Moscow, Russia Jan 09, 2019, 03.41 PM (IST)

The Kremlin on Wednesday rejected a British suggestion it might use a former US Marine detained in Russia on espionage charges as a pawn in a diplomatic game and said it reserved the right to conduct counter-intelligence activities.

Paul Whelan, a former US Marine who also holds a British passport, was detained by Russia's Federal Security Service on December 28. His family has said he is innocent and that he was in Moscow to attend a wedding.

Commenting on the case earlier this month, British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said individuals should not be used as pawns of diplomatic leverage.

Asked about Hunt's remark, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters:

"In Russia, we never use people as pawns in diplomatic games. In Russia, we conduct counter-intelligence activity against those suspected of espionage. That is done regularly."

Story highlights

Paul Whelan, a former US Marine who also holds a British passport, was detained by Russia's Federal Security Service on December 28. His family has said he is innocent and that he was in Moscow to attend a wedding.