Former US embassy employee detained in Russia

Paul Whelen who is being held in a forced labour camp

Paul Whelen who is being held in a forced labour camp in Russia. Credit: or United States Marine Corps/This file is a work of a United States Marine or employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, it is in the public domain.

Robert Shonov was a former US embassy employee and has been arrested by Russia’s Federal Security Service.

He has been charged with Collaboration on a confidential basis with a foreign state or foreign state organisation. He could face up to eight years in prison.

Also being held at Lefortovo prison, a former KGB prison is American journalist Evan Gershkovich who has been charged with spying while working as a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.

Another American, who was also in the jail, is former US marine, Paul Whelan. He was handed a 16-year sentence in 2020 after he was arrested on suspicion of spying in 2018. However, the US has said that the charges against both men are “baseless.”

Whelen is now serving his sentence for what the US say are “fabricated charges” in a forced labour camp several hundred miles away from Lefortovo prison in Mordovia.

Mr Shonov was arrested in Vladivostok and Russian officials have asked to detain him for three months, but at present no court date has been fixed and the US embassy says they are aware of the reports but that they “have nothing to say, at this time.”

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Written by

Julia Cameron

Julia is an ex-pat writer from Brighton living in a small village close to the Andalucian town of Priego de Cordoba. When she's not working she enjoys reading, tracing her ancestry and swimming. She especially loves the summer when she can get down to the coast and chill on the beach.