Novi resident accused of being spy in Russia pleads for help from President Trump

Paul Whelan locked up for six months on espionage charges

Paul Whelan hits 6 month mark in Russian custody

NOVI, Mich. – It's been six months since Novi native Paul Whelan was arrested in Moscow and jailed in Russia on charges of espionage.

His family, U.S. Embassy leaders and others have made attempts to understand what Whelan is accused of doing but so far, they said, no evidence exists.

Whelan is still in jail with no clear timeline laid out.

He was attending a wedding in late December when he was arrested in a hotel, officials said.

Russian authorities accuse Whelan of having a list of employees of a secret Russian security agency, although no evidence has been produced.

Since Whelan's arrest, American leaders haven't said much about the case. Whelan's brother told Local 4 over video chat that some consular and embassy leaders are working on Whelan's behalf.

During a court hearing Thursday, Whelan made a public plea, asking President Donald Trump to discuss his case with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G-20 summit.

"Mr. President, we cannot keep American great unless we aggressively protect and defend American citizens wherever they are in the world," Whelan said.

His brother agrees the case is politically motivated.

"I think it's at that level," David Whelan said. "There's clearly no legal case against him."

In the meantime, Paul Whelan's next court date has been pushed to August. His family fears the process will take much longer.

David Whelan said that, in many cases, a foreigner can be held for up to a year, which means his brother wouldn't get a trial until December.

He was asked if there's a chance Paul Whelan is guilty of the accusations.

"Absolutely not," David Whelan said. "There's no evidence that he's guilty of espionage."

It's unclear if Trump discussed the case with Putin.

If convicted, Paul Whelan could spend 10 to 20 years in prison.


About the Authors:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.