, FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Whelan family shows Paul Whelan in Iceland. Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov on Saturday Jan. 5, 2019, is brushing back suggestions that an American being held in Moscow on suspicion of spying could be exchanged for a Russian. Paul Whelan, who also holds Canadian, British and Irish citizenship was detained in late December. (Courtesy of the Whelan Family via AP)
04 of January 2019 18:20:26
MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on the American man being held in Moscow on alleged spying charges (all times local):
The twin brother of the American man being held in Moscow on alleged spying charges is urging the U.S. government to help get his brother released.
David Whelan issued a family statement on Friday on behalf of his brother, Paul Whelan, saying that the family was "very pleased to know that staff of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow have been given consular access to Paul and confirmed that he is safe."
He says the family's "focus remains on ensuring that Paul is safe, well treated, has a good lawyer, and is coming home."
He urged the U.S. Congress and the State Department to help get his brother freed.
Russian media say Whelan has been formally indicted for spying and could face up to 20 years in prison. The Interfax news agency says he has denied the allegation.
Irish officials say a man being detained by Russia, Paul Whelan, has requested help from the Irish government and report they will do what they can to come to his aid.
Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Friday that its embassy in Moscow is requesting consular access to Whelan. It said it made the request "after receiving a request for assistance" from an Irish citizen detained in Moscow.
Whelan, a 48-year-old former Marine and security director for a U.S. company, was arrested a week ago in Moscow, accused of spying. His family says he was in Moscow to attend a friend's wedding.
Officials have now confirmed that Whelan holds U.S., British and Irish citizenship.
Ireland says "the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will provide all possible and appropriate assistance in relation to this case."
Britain's foreign secretary says Russia is trying to use a man detained as an alleged spy as a pawn in its geopolitical games.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Sky News on Friday that the British government is trying to help Paul Whelan. The 48-year-old former Marine and global security director for a U.S. company was arrested a week ago in Moscow.
At the time, he was identified only as an American but officials say Whelan also has British citizenship.
Hunt says Friday that "we are giving him every support that we can, but we don't agree with individuals being used in diplomatic chess games."
Hunt adds that "we are extremely worried about him and his family."
Russian officials say the American former Marine who is being held in Moscow on spying charges also holds British citizenship, and London has requested consular access to him.
Paul Whelan, the global security director for a U.S. company, was arrested a week ago in Moscow. At the time, he was identified only as an American.
Britain's Press Association said Whelan's U.K. citizenship was reported by the U.S. embassy to British officials on Thursday. That was a day after U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman, Jr. met with Whelan at Lefortovo Prison in Moscow.
Relations between Moscow and London are at a low point in the wake of Britain's allegations that Russian military intelligence agents were behind the nerve-agent poisoning of a Russian former double agent and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury in March.
Russia has angrily denied involvement in the poisonings.