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MOSCOW – Russia’s FSB state safety service mentioned on Monday it had detained an American citizen suspected of spying in Moscow and had opened a prison case in opposition to him.

The FSB mentioned the American had been detained on December 28 but it surely gave no particulars of the character of his alleged espionage actions.

A U.S. State Division spokesperson mentioned Russia had notified it {that a} U.S. citizen had been detained and it anticipated Moscow to supply consular entry to see him.

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“We have now requested this entry and count on Russian authorities to supply it,” the spokesperson mentioned, with out offering particulars of the id of the American or the explanations behind his detention.

The English-language service of TASS information company named him as Paul Whelan however Reuters was unable to independently verify the precise spelling of his title. The State Division didn’t determine him.

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Underneath Russian legislation, espionage can carry between 10 and 20 years in jail.

Russia’s relations with america plummeted when Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and Washington and Western allies have imposed a broad vary of sanctions on Russian officers, firms and banks.

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Earlier this month Russian nationwide Maria Butina pleaded responsible in a U.S. court docket to a conspiracy cost in a cope with prosecutors, and admitted to working with a high Russian official to infiltrate American conservative activist teams and politicians as an agent for Moscow.

(Further reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Will Dunham in Washington; Modifying by Richard Balmforth)

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