Novi man in Russia for wedding at time of spying arrest, family says

Novi native Paul Whelan is being detained by the Russian government facing espionage charges but his family says he is innocent.

The 48-year-old was arrested Friday in Moscow by Russia's federal security service. Whelan is a retired marine and his family says they are concerned for his safety.

The U.S. State department said it was "Aware of the detention of a U.S. citizen by Russian authorities" and had received formal notification from the Russian foreign ministry. it says it's pushing for consular access to the detained American.

His brother David Whelan released a statement via Twitter saying:

"We have read reports of the arrest in Moscow of Paul Whelan, our son and brother. Paul is a retired Marine and was visiting Moscow to attend a wedding. We noticed that he was not in communication on the 28th, which was very much out of character for him even when he was traveling. We learned of his arrest on Monday morning after his detention was picked up on newswires and have contacted Congressional representatives, the U.S. Embassy, and the State Department. We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being. His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected."

Whelan works as the global security director of BorgWarner - a worldwide auto parts and components supplier based in Auburn Hills. He is responsible for overseeing security at BorgWarner locations around the world.

BorgWarner says it has been in contact with U.S. authorities in order to help Whelan and the U.S. government.

"BorgWarner Inc. learned of the arrest of our employee Paul Whelan by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) from news reports published Dec. 31, 2018.  We can confirm that Mr. Whelan currently serves as the company's director, global security. He is responsible for overseeing security at our facilities in Auburn Hills, Michigan and at other company locations around the world. 

"BorgWarner has been in contact with the relevant U.S. Government authorities in order to help our employee and the U.S. government. We ask that any further inquiries regarding this issue be directed to the U.S. State Department."