Russia Detains American in Moscow Over Suspected Spying

Russian security agency arrests 'US spy' in Moscow

Russian authorities have detained an American citizen over accusations of spying, according to Russia's Interfax news agency.

Russian Federation has detained a U.S. citizen in Moscow accused of spying, according to the FSB security service. A criminal case has been opened against him.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke out about the case on December 20, saying he didn't understand why Butina was detained and that he would support her.

The FSB domestic security service said the American was arrested on Friday "while carrying out an act of espionage".

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The TASS report said Whelan could face between 10 to 20 years in prison if found guilty but disclosed no further details.

The U.S. State Department said it was "aware of the detention of a U.S. citizen by Russian authorities" and had received formal notification from the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The detention of Whelan comes weeks after a Russian woman pleaded guilty in a US court to acting as an agent for the Kremlin. In recent months the FSB has reported an increase of western-led espionage within Russian borders at a time when the country is also facing allegations of spying and interference in Europe and the US. Butina, 30, is the first Russian national to be convicted of seeking to influence US policy in the run-up to the 2016 election by acting as a foreign agent.

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