JEREMY HUNT is reviewing whether Brits are safe in Russia after blasting Moscow for the arrest of alleged spy Paul Whelan. The Foreign Secretary ac
JEREMY HUNT is reviewing whether Brits are safe in Russia after blasting Moscow for the arrest of alleged spy Paul Whelan.
The Foreign Secretary accused the Kremlin of using the former Marine – a dual UK-US citizen – as a pawn in a “diplomatic chess game”.
And challenged whether the Government was concerned other Brits could potentially be picked up, the Tory leadership contender said: “Well this is obviously something that is under active consideration.
“We are constantly reviewing our travel advice in all parts of the world.
“And if we see the need to make a change, then we will make it.”
The 48 year-old was charged with espionage on Wednesday amid allegations he was given a computer memory stick containing a list of Russian agents in a Moscow hotel room.
American embassy officials contacted British counterparts to inform them of the arrest and his status as a Brit.
Speaking during a trip in Singapore, Mr Hunt said he had no idea whether the arrest was motivated by the fallout from the Salisbury attack last year – or to secure the release of a Russian awaiting sentencing in the US.
The Russian, Marina Butina, has admitted acting unlawfully as a Russian agent.
Mr Hunt stormed: “We are not ruling out any theories at all at this stage as to why this might have happened.
“But our position is very, very clear which is a very straight forward point that individuals should not be used as pawns of diplomatic leverage.
“We don’t agree with individuals being used in diplomatic chess games because it is desperately worrying for not just the individual and the families and we are all extremely worried about him and his family as we hear this news.”
Theresa May incensed Moscow last year by the leading global outrage against the Kremlin over the Salisbury poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia last March.
Mr Whelan’s family insist he is innocent and was in Moscow for the wedding of a former Marine to a Russian woman.
He was born in Canada to British parents, Edward and Rosemary Whelan, and later moved to the US.
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Mr Hunt said America was leading on the 48 year-old’s case because he was both a British and American citizen.
But a Foreign Office spokesman confirmed: “Staff have requested consular access to a British man detained in Russia after receiving a request for assistance.”
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