Brother of Novi man arrested in Russia shares concerns about attorney

Paul Whelan accused of espionage

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®, Kayla Clarke

NOVI, Mich. - The brother of a Novi man who is sitting in Russian prison on accusations of espionage is sharing his concerns about his brother's attorney.

Paul Whelan was picked up by Russian authorities on Dec. 28, 2018. Russian officials claim he was part of a clandestine spy recruiting operation.

Local 4 spoke with Paul's brother at-length Tuesday and David Whelan shared concerns about Paul Whelan's Russian attorney.

The two are twin brothers. Family said Paul Whelan went to Moscow for a wedding and was there for a week, but didn't show up at the wedding.

David said he was concerned his brother had died. He used the internet to search for information.

"I had been looking for things like, 'American killed in Moscow,' 'In a car crash,' anything like that. So, on the one hand, we're happy he's alive. It was remarkable to think he had been picked up as a spy," David Whelan said.

The family said they do not believe that Paul Whelan was a spy despite questions about him having four passports and working in corporate security.

David said his Irish grandparents moved their family to England. Paul Whelan's parents moved to Canada, where Paul and David were born. Then the family emigrated to the U.S.

When Irish passport rules changed, David said Paul had a contest with his sister to see who could get the Irish passport first.

"A whole concept of the game was which one would do it first. It wasn't that they were going to try and get more and more passports, it was really just about who would get theirs first out of the two of them," David said.

David is concerned about Paul's Russian-appointed lawyer. David said the lawyer's son is one of the investigators on the team that detained Paul.

"We now have a lawyer who is defending someone who the son is on the investigation team. It would never happen in the states. You have such a conflict of interest there, it just becomes more and more bizarre every time you turn a corner," David said.

Paul Whelan requested to have the diplomatic corps of all four countries get involved in his case. The Russians have granted so it's likely Paul will meet with British, Canadian and Irish consular officials later this week.

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