The previous US marine detained in Moscow on spying fees had for lengthy been a person of the Russian social media community VK, and virtually half of the folks he chatted with there appear to have hyperlinks to the Russian navy.

Paul Whelan, who additionally holds British, Irish and Canadian citizenships, appeared to have a specific penchant for Russia. His account on Russia’s hottest social community, VK, is greater than a decade outdated though he had simply 55 pals. However practically half of them, notably, had both a navy schooling or a historical past of navy service, Reuters reports.

No less than 12 of his friends on VK had obtained navy schooling in Russia, whereas one other 11 apparently had served within the Russian Military, the report says, including that the listing of Whelan’s acquaintances additionally contains folks from the IT, engineering or civil aviation circles.

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RT was capable of finding what seems to be Whelan’s social media account on VK. The social media web page comprises a handful of photos, together with some footage mocking former US President Barack Obama and supporting Russia’s re-unification with Crimea. The web page can also be crammed with brief posts in English and Russian, largely varied vacation greetings on events starting from Russia’s Victory Day to Canada Day or Christmas. A number of of his posts additionally seemingly specific help for President Donald Trump.

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Amongst his ‘pals’ there are a minimum of half a dozen of graduates of Russian navy greater schooling establishments, together with the Russian Protection Ministry’s Navy College – one of many main instructional and scientific facilities of the Russian Armed Forces. Different instructional amenities Whelan’s acquaintances graduated from embody a number of navy engineering universities and the Civil Protection Academy of the Russian Emergencies Ministry. There are additionally a number of docs, specialists in civil engineering and development, in addition to in civil aviation and water transport.

Earlier, the Russian KP every day additionally reported about Whelan’s contacts with Russian navy graduates and talked to 2 of his acquaintances. Nonetheless, each males mentioned the American by no means requested them about their schooling or work however as a substitute talked in regards to the US, his personal previous and his want to study Russian. Most Russian contacts of Whelan, 48, are males of their 20s, and none of them appeared to carry any excessive ranks within the Russian navy.

It stays unclear what was behind Whelan’s alternative of his Russian ‘pals’. The previous marine’s brother informed Reuters that such a plan of action could be solely pure for a person with a navy background, who sought to search out like-minded people in a brand new nation. He insists that his sibling is not any spy.

“I did not know he had a VK account earlier than final week. However I’m not stunned that he had pals on social media, each Fb and VK that had navy backgrounds simply as he had a navy background,” he informed Reuters.

In the meantime, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo added extra controversy to Whelan’s case when he refused to unequivocally verify that the person shouldn’t be a spy. “For lots of causes, I can’t say way more about that specific case,” Pompeo told Fox Information on Friday, when requested if the detained former marine was spying for the US or not.

Whelan was detained by the Russian FSB simply earlier than New 12 months’s Eve. He was put in custody and charged with espionage just a few days later, going through between 10 to 20 years in jail if discovered responsible. His kin keep he got here to Russia as a vacationer to attend the marriage of his buddy.

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Particulars of this case stay sparse. Nonetheless, some western media have, apparently, already made up their thoughts in regards to the consequence of the story. CNN and CBS each alleged that Whelan could be swapped for the Russian gun advocacy activist Marina Butina, arrested within the US on fees of performing as an unregistered lobbyist.

The Russian International Ministry, nonetheless, denied any such plans. “There isn’t a speak about swapping Paul Whelan for anybody held in custody overseas,” the ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova mentioned at a briefing on Friday, calling all such experiences “hypothesis and pretend information.” 

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