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US Embassy in Moscow with no news on spy whereabouts

The U.S. embassy in Moscow said Tuesday it had no information on the whereabouts of an American convicted in June of espionage, despite reports that he was being transferred to a penal colony in central Russia.

Paul Whelan’s brother David tweeted that “he is apparently in Mordovia, on his way to the IK-17 penal colony.” In the Republic of Mordovia, some 350 kilometers east of Moscow, there are several prison establishments.

According to Interfax news agency, David Whelan said he received the information from the British embassy. Paul Whelan holds the American, British, Irish and Canadian citizenships.

US Embassy spokeswoman Rebecca Ross said on Twitter: “We have not received an official notification from the Russian authorities of that transfer despite our repeated recent attempts to gain consular access to Paul.”

Whelan, a former head of a Michigan security firm, was arrested in December 2018 in Moscow and sentenced to 16 years in prison in June. His lawyer says he was handed a portable memory containing confidential information without his knowledge.