Jan 2, 2019

American detained in Russia visited by U.S. ambassador

Ambassador Jon Huntsman. Photo: Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS via Getty Images

Paul Whelan, the American citizen arrested in Moscow last Friday on charges of espionage, was visited by U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman on Wednesday, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: It's unusual for such a high-ranking official to make this kind of visit, according to national security analyst Evelyn Farkas. Whelan is facing up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. Some intelligence experts believe he was detained as retribution for the arrest of confessed Russian agent Maria Butina.

Details: Whelan is a 48-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran and "avowed Russophile" who was in Russia attending a wedding, according to The Daily Beast. He's the director of global security for an auto-parts supplier, BorgWarner, where he conducts investigations into "theft, fraud, sexual harassment, workplace violence" and other issues that affect the company.

  • Whelan's job puts him in "frequent contact with a variety of federal agencies," and he has visited Russia several times since 2007.

What they're saying:

  • Whelan's family told the New York Times: "We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being. His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected."
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said if Whelan's detention "is not appropriate, we will demand his immediate return."
  • BorgWarner said in a statement that the company was in contact with U.S. officials in regards to Whelan's arrest.

Go deeper

Updates: George Floyd protests enter 12th day

Protesters in Washington, D.C. on June 6. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Thousands of demonstrators are gathering in cities across the U.S. and around the world to protest the killing of George Floyd. Huge crowds have assembled in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Chicago for full-day events.

Why it matters: Twelve days of nationwide protest in the U.S. has built pressure for states to make new changes on what kind of force law enforcement can use on civilians and prompted officials to review police conduct.

Updated 22 mins ago - World

In photos: People around the world rally against racism

Despite a ban on large gatherings implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic, protesters rally against racism in front of the American Embassy in Paris on June 6. Photo: Julien Mattia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tens of thousands of people have continued to rally in cities across the world against racism and show their support this week for U.S. demonstrators protesting the death in police custody of George Floyd.

Why it matters: The tense situation in the U.S. has brought the discussion of racism and discrimination onto the global stage at a time when most of the world is consumed by the novel coronavirus.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 6,852,810 — Total deaths: 398,211 — Total recoveries — 3,071,142Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 1,917,080 — Total deaths: 109,702 — Total recoveries: 500,849 — Total tested: 19,778,873Map.
  3. Public health: Why the pandemic is hitting minorities harder — Coronavirus curve rises in FloridaHow racism threatens the response to the pandemic Some people are drinking and inhaling cleaning products in attempt to fight the virus.
  4. Tech: The pandemic is accelerating next-generation disease diagnostics — Robotics looks to copy software-as-a-service model.
  5. Business: Budgets busted by coronavirus make it harder for cities to address inequality Sports, film production in California to resume June 12 after 3-month hiatus.
  6. Education: Students and teachers flunked remote learning.