American held in Russian Federation for spying is also British, Irish, Canadian

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption David Whelan comments on his brother's arrest by Russian authorities

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption David Whelan comments on his brother's arrest by Russian authorities

Despite US President Donald Trump's repeatedly accommodating words towards Russian President Vladimir Putin, the arrest of Whelan is the latest in a series of espionage cases between the two countries.

USA military records released shortly after his arrest last week showed that Paul Whelan had been convicted at a court-martial of charges that included larceny but did not disclose the nature of his crime.

That date would have put it one day after Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan in Moscow on spying charges.

A member of Russia's parliament suggested Friday that once the investigation into Whelan was completed, he could be swapped for Maria Butina, a Russian woman jailed in the USA since July.

In the past, Russian Federation has sometimes arrested foreigners with the aim of trading prisoners with other countries.

But Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Saturday: "I see no reasons to raise this issue in the context of exchanges".

"As to the possibility of exchanges of one sort of another, it's impossible and incorrect to consider the question now when an official charge hasn't even been presented", Ryabkov was quoted as saying by state news agency RIA-Novosti.

Whelan, who has denied the charges, could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

The Novi man arrested in Russian Federation and charged with espionage might have some extra help in his bid to get out of jail.

London has confirmed that Paul Whelan is a United Kingdom national and requested consular access to see him, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman told Sputnik on Friday.

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Corneille Nangaa, head of the country's electoral commission (CENI), said, "It is not possible to publish the results on Sunday". In his letter Nangaa warned CENCO would "alone be responsible" for unrest after disseminating "insignificant and partial data".

The family learned of his arrest Monday through media reports.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow could not immediately be reached for comment.

The US State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not immediately respond to CNN's requests for comment. Last January, he was listed as a fugitive by a U.S. District Court Judge in Florida.

Nevidomy pleaded guilty to the charges last June and is now serving a 26-month sentence.

US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. visited Whelan in Moscow's Lefortovo Prison on Wednesday and offered support and assistance, though he refused to discuss the case in detail.

Speaking from Newmarket, Ontario, his twin brother David said: 'In the short-term the thing we would appreciate most from the UK Government and are certain that it's going to happen - we're not questioning any will on their part after Mr Hunt's statement - is that they will keep an eye on Paul and assist the United States and the other two countries to maintain him in good health until we can get him home'.

"As for his global connections, our family spans continents, and Paul's four passports reflect his birth (Canada), parents (Britain), grandparents (Ireland) and choice (United States)", David Whelan wrote in an Op-Ed in The Washington Post.

They believe he has been unwittingly been caught up in the spy game and that Russian Federation is using him as a pawn to try and get back one of its spies, Maria Butina, who is in a us prison on charges of espionage.

Butina pleaded guilty in a USA court to acting as an agent for the Kremlin.

Earlier this week, Whelan's Russian lawyer told ABC News he thinks there is a possibility his client will be exchanged for a Russian in US custody.

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