BorgWarner employee ordered to remain in custody in Russia

Europe

BorgWarner employee Paul Whelan was ordered Thursday to remain in custody through Dec. 29, a year and a day since he was arrested in Russia on suspicion of spying.

The 49-year-old security chief for the suburban Detroit auto supplier has been behind bars since he was arrested at a Moscow hotel on Dec. 28 with a flash drive containing “state secrets.” He was later charged with espionage.

Whelan continues to profess his innocence and his family has expressed concerns about his well-being in Russian jail.

“My human rights are being violated, my life threatened, medical issues are being denied, and my property stolen,” Whelan said in a BBC video clip as he addressed a judge at Lefortovo Court in Moscow on Thursday, the Washington Times reported. “No evidence of espionage has been provided, as it does not exist.”

Led by Michigan legislators, the U.S. House of Representatives this week passed a resolution urging Russia to provide evidence of wrongdoing or release Whelan. U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., sponsored the resolution, condemning the Russian government for detaining Whelan without evidence.

The resolution also calls for Russia to provide Whelan with fair due process and unrestricted access to counselor service. A similar resolution is before the Senate.

“After ten months in a Moscow prison, without full consular access and without being able to speak to his family, Paul’s health is deteriorating,” Stevens said in a news release. “If Russia cannot produce any evidence after keeping an American citizen detained for almost a year, they must release him immediately. Let Paul come home and get the medical care he needs.”

A BorgWarner spokeswoman confirmed that Whelan is still an employee, but did not comment further, deferring to the State Department for updates.

Whelan would face up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the spying charge.

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