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Ab U.S. Marine held in Russia on espionage responsibility says he is threatened: TASS



Former US Navy Paul Whelan, detained with suspicion of espionage, was escorted within a courthouse before a hearing on the extension of his detention in Moscow, Russia on May 24, 201

9. REUTERS / Shamil Zhumatov [19659002] MOSCOW (Reuters) – A former US Marine held in Russia by Friday's espionage accused a security assistant of submitting threats to him and asking a court to have the man removed from his case, the TASS news agency reported.

Paul Whelan, who holds US, British, Canadian and Irish passports, was detained in a Moscow hotel room on December 28 and accused of espionage, a charge he refused. If he is found guilty, he is up to 20 years in prison.

"I urge the FSB (Security Service) to investigate Captain Alexei Khizhnyak being canceled (the case). He insults my dignity and threatens my life," Whelan was quoted as telling the Moscow Court.

His comments are likely to worsen relations between the United States and Russia, which are already strained over a number of issues, including the war in Syria, financial sanctions and the detention of another US citizen, prominent investor Michael Calvey, who is under house arrest in Moscow on wonder charges.

Whelan arose during a hearing called to determine whether he should extend his detention for three months. The FSB requested Tuesday to be held until the end of August.

The judge told Whelan that he was only entitled under Russian law to request compensation from court or prosecution officials, but not an investigator.

"I understand it, but what should I do if my rights are violated," Whelan was quoted as saying.

The US Embassy in Moscow did not respond promptly to a request for comment.

Reporting by Maxim Rodionov; written by Tom Balmforth; Editing John Stonestreet

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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