"At the same time, the Russian Embassy in Washington learned about what happened to him not from the American law enforcement agencies, but from his relatives".
Alleging that Whelan had been detained "during a spy action in Moscow", the FSB offered few other details on the case.
Whelan's family said that he had travelled to Russian Federation before and was in Moscow this time for a wedding. He faces a sentence of as long as 20 years in prison if found guilty of spying. The US has so far taken the lead as his brother entered Russian Federation on his US passport.
"We are extremely anxious about Paul Whelan".
Court records provided by the Marine Corps headquarters show that he had been accused of attempting to steal more than $10,000 while serving as an administrative clerk in Iraq in 2006.
It was while serving in the marines that he made his first trip to Russian Federation, a visit he detailed on his website, which has been shut down. But his military career ended with a court martial in 2008, when he was convicted on charges that included attempted larceny and dereliction of duty. According to his family, he is simply a man who wanted to attend a friend's wedding.
The Russian government has demanded the release of Butina, who confessed to spying on pro-gun conservative groups for the Kremlin.
Whelan visited Russian Federation regularly since his first trip there in 2006.
He added that his brother visited Russian Federation at least three times, but there was nothing secretive about these journeys. His roughly 70 contacts on the social networking site all worked in IT security or the defence sector - not unlike Whelan, who worked in global security and solutions.
David Whelan, from Ontario, told the AP news agency that he wondered if his brother had got caught up in a geopolitical struggle.
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Paul Whelan... in return for Maria Butina?
Paul Whelan, 48, is a former Marine from MI who was arrested in Moscow after authorities there say he was caught in the act of espionage - an accusation his family denies, saying he was in the nation to instead attend a friend's wedding.
But Moscow hit back at that suggestion. But "it's impossible and incorrect to consider the question now, when an official charge hasn't even been presented", deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying this weekend.
Britain's foreign secretary says Russian Federation is trying to use a man detained as an alleged spy as a pawn in its geopolitical games.
His brother, David, told the AP that Whelan loves to travel and likes to "interact with the people in the places that he goes", but that Whelan would be too "conspicuous" to be selected as a spy.
Mr Whelan continued to work for Kelly Services, being promoted to senior manager of global security and investigations in 2010.
The US Embassy in Moscow advised the British Embassy on Thursday that a US citizen detained on 28 December informed them he also holds British citizenship.
The ministry said Dmitry Makarenko was taken to Florida, although there's nothing in US court records to show he has arrived there.
The defense lawyer for a former U.S. Marine who was detained in Russian Federation for alleged spying said Thursday that he is trying to get the American released from the Moscow prison where he has coped well with being in custody. "Detention should not be used as a political tool", Adam Austen, a spokesman for Ms. Freeland, said in an e-mailed statement on Sunday.