Russia’s FSB state security service said on Monday it had detained an American citizen suspected of spying in Moscow and had opened a criminal case against him.
The FSB said the American had been detained on December 28 but it gave no details of the nature of his alleged espionage activities.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson said Russia had notified it that a U.S. citizen had been detained and it expected Moscow to provide consular access to see him.
“We have requested this access and expect Russian authorities to provide it,” the spokesperson said, without providing details of the identity of the American or the reasons behind his detention.
The English-language service of TASS news agency named him as Paul Whelan but Reuters was unable to independently confirm the exact spelling of his name. The State Department did not identify him.
Under Russian law, espionage can carry between 10 and 20 years in prison.