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Twin asks UK to help Marine facing Russia spying charges

THE brother of a former US Marine who also has British citizenship urged the government to ‘keep an eye on him’ after he was held in Russia on apparent spying charges.

Paul Whelan, 48, could face up to 20 years in prison if charged and convicted of espionage.

There has been speculation that he could be swapped for Maria Butina, 30, a Russian being held in the US. She has admitted infiltrating the US gun rights movement in the run-up to Donald Trump’s presidency.

Mr Whelan (pictured) has British citizenship through his parents, but is also a citizen of Ireland, Canada and the US. Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said the UK is giving Mr Whelan, from Michigan, ‘every support we can’ and said Moscow should not use people as pieces in ‘diplomatic chess games’.

The arrested man’s twin, David Whelan, who lives in Canada, said: ‘The thing we would appreciate most from the UK government is that they will keep an eye on Paul and assist the US and the other two countries to maintain him in good health until we can get him home.’ His brother’s arrest appeared ‘arbitrary’ and there was nothing to indicate he was a spy, he said.