Family of Paul Whelan, American detained in Russia for alleged spying, ‘deeply concerned for his safety’

WORLD NEWS Family of Paul Whelan, American detained in Russia for alleged spying, 'deeply concerned for his safety'  https://linewsradio.com/family-of-paul-whelan-american-detained-in-russia-for-alleged-spying-deeply-concerned-for-his-safety/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

iStock/yulenochekk(MOSCOW) — The family of an American man arrested in Russia on spying charges has said they are certain he is innocent — and are worried about his well-being.

Paul Whelan was arrested Friday by Russia’s domestic security service, the FSB, which said he was detained because he was conducting “spying activity.”

Whelan’s family said in a statement Tuesday that they are “deeply concerned about his safety and well-being.”

“His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected,” the statement read.

Whelan’s twin brother, David, told ABC News that Paul Whelan is 48 years old, a former staff sergeant in the U.S. Marines. Service records provided by the Marines show he served two tours in Iraq in 2004 and 2006. According to a statement from his employer, Whelan is currently the director of global security for BorgWarner Inc., a large American auto-parts supplier.

David Whelan told ABC News he can’t imagine his brother as a spy.

“He’s got a military background, he’s been in corporate security for years. He was former law enforcement. He was going to be very well aware of the risks of traveling in Russia,” he said Tuesday morning. “I just don’t see him putting himself in a position where he would be considered to break the law by a government like Russia’s.”

The U.S. State Department said on Monday it had been notified by Russia of Whelan’s detention but that American diplomats had so far been unable to meet with him.

Last week, he was in Russia to attend the wedding of an old friend from the Marines, who was marrying a Russian woman, his family said. He had been staying at the upscale Metropol hotel in central Moscow and had been involved in the wedding party.

The group had toured city together, including visiting the Kremlin Friday morning, David Whelan said. That was the same day, Dec. 28, that Paul Whelan was detained.

The wedding was that night and his friends become concerned when Paul Whelan never appeared, his brother said. His friends hadn’t heard anything from Whelan since 5 p.m.

The silence “was very much out of character for him even when he was traveling,” the family said of Paul Whelan in the statement.

By Sunday, his friend filed a missing person report with the U.S. Embassy, according to David Whelan. The first the family heard of Paul Whelan’s whereabouts was when the FSB released its statement Monday announcing he been detained and accused of spying.

The FSB, which stands for the Federal Security Service, has not provided any more details about Whelan. The Russian government has not publicly provided any information on what Whelan is accused of or the allegations surrounding his arrest.

Whelan’s employer, BorgWarner, has collaborated for several years with Kamaz, Russia’s largest truck manufacturer, which is part of Rostec, a major state-owned conglomerate of strategic companies that produce defense technologies and armaments, among other products. There is no indication that this connection is related to Whelan’s arrest.

BorgWarner on Tuesday said it had no facilities in Russia and that Whelan had been on a personal trip.

A BorgWarner spokesperson told ABC News that as director of global security Whelan “is responsible for the security of our facilities, assets and people.”

“The company does not have any facilities in Russia. It’s our understanding that this was a personal trip. He was not there on business for BorgWarner,” the company said, adding that Whelan has worked there since 2017.

U.S. prosecutors accused Butina of trying to infiltrate the Republican Party through American conservative organizations, acting on behalf of a well-connected Russian banking official.

The Butina is loosely connected to the sprawling special counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Robert Mueller’s prosecutors are still probing, but have already uncovered a plot by Russian intelligence agencies to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump and to undermine his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Prior to that, Whelan was employed by Kelly Services, a global temporary staffing agency, according to his brother.

“I can confirm that an individual named Paul Whelan worked for Kelly Services until February 2016. Kelly has yet to confirm whether this former employee is the same individual reported upon in the news stories,” Kelly Services told ABC News in a brief statement.

David Whelan said as far as he was aware his brother was more involved in physical security of factories and facilities, ensuring things like proper exits and preventing scrap metal from being stolen, rather than private intelligence or cybersecurity activity for the company.

He said his brother had visited Russia previously, traveling for personal and work reasons. Paul Whelan gave an interview to a Marine publication about a trip to Moscow in 2007 while he as on R&R leave during one of his tours in Iraq.

Paul Whelan was supposed to travel with the wedding party to St. Petersburg, his brother said, and was scheduled to fly back home on Jan. 6.

Whelan’s arrest follows another high-profile spy case involving the United States and Russia. A young gun rights activist named Maria Butina pleaded guilty last month to illegally acting as a foreign agent.

U.S. prosecutors accused Butina of trying to infiltrate the Republican Party through American conservative organizations, acting on behalf of a well-connected Russian banking official.

The Butina is loosely connected to the sprawling special counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Robert Mueller’s prosecutors are still probing, but have already uncovered a plot by Russian intelligence agencies to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump and to undermine his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Russia has claimed the Butina case is a fabricated witch hunt and has accused the U.S. of taking her hostage for political reasons.

John Sipher, a former veteran CIA officer who once ran the agency’s Russia operations, told ABC News he was suspicious of the Kremlin’s claims.

“You need to recall that the Russian definition of espionage and spying is extremely flexible and covers all sorts of things that we would not consider illegal in any way,” he said. “It is a law specifically written to allow [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to define it any way he wishes.

“It would be easy for him to arrest almost anybody and accuse them of espionage,” Sipher added.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 01 Jan 2019

Roger Federer gushes about Serena Williams after defeating her in first match together

Sports News Roger Federer gushes about Serena Williams after defeating her in first match together https://linewsradio.com/roger-federer-gushes-about-serena-williams-after-defeating-her-in-first-match-together/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/sports-news/

Twitter/@rogerfederer(PERTH, Australia) — It was sportsmanship at its best on New Year’s Day in Perth, Australia, as Roger Federer defeated Serena Williams in mixed doubles, then took to the mic to praise the iconic athlete.

Federer and his partner Belinda Bencic defeated Williams and Francis Tiafoe 4-2, 4-3 to advance in the Hopman Cup, but the event was more about two tennis greats facing off and then showing great esteem for the other.

After the match, Williams told the crowd she was “kinda sad the match was over. I was just warming up.”

About Federer, she added, “We grew up together … and having an opportunity after all these years. We’ve actually never done this and so this was super cool that we got to do this at such a pinnacle point in both our careers. For me, it was super cool! I wanted to take pictures and wanted to bring my baby out.”

Williams leads Federer 23-20 in career grand slams won, but the two will be forever linked as the dominant male and female, respectively, in tennis for this era, maybe all-time.

Federer gushed right back after the match, not only smiling for a selfie with the empowering athlete, but adding, “Your serving, especially the last serve at 3-3, I’m like ‘I’ve got to win this point,’ but it’s Serena Williams,’ I was telling myself. And I was telling myself, ‘This is maybe what I’ve always wanted, maybe a big-time moment like this.'”

He added that it was an “honor” to face off against Williams.

“It was great, great fun, and she’s a great champion and you see how focused and determined she is, and I love that about her,” he added.

Williams fired a compliment right back at the male champion, calling him the “the greatest of all-time to be honest” and that is “both on the court and off the court. He has such charisma, he’s just a wonderful player.”

The crowd wasn’t just treated to a super match, but two icons effusing respect for one another in the best way.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 01 Jan 2019

Kim Jong Un warns US in New Year’s address

WORLD NEWS Kim Jong Un warns US in New Year's address  https://linewsradio.com/kim-jong-un-warns-us-in-new-years-address/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) — Kim Jong Un says he is ready to sit down again with President Donald Trump — but also warned the United States against imposing more sanctions.

During his annual televised New Year’s speech, the North Korean leader said he hopes a follow-up summit meeting will “produce an outcome welcomed by the international community.”

Kim and Trump met in June in Singapore for the first time in the history of the rival countries.

But in the 30-minute speech on New Year’s Day, Kim also warned that North Korea may choose a “new path” if the United States continues to “break its promises and misjudges our patience by unilaterally demanding certain things and pushes ahead with sanctions and pressure.”

In the months since the historic summit, leaders from both countries, including U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have been trying to negotiate a second meeting between Trump and Kim. Both countries, however, have been at an impasse about the progress of denuclearization.

Kim, meanwhile, also called for stronger ties with South Korea and announced a willingness to resume two inter-Korean cooperative projects in the North — Kaesong Industrial park and Mount Kumgang tourist resort — which had been halted due to strained relations.

Neither of those are currently possible for South Korea unless sanctions on the North are removed.

“Kim is hinting that if things come to worse, North Korea could go back to the economic-nuclear dual path,” Cheong Seong-chang, director of unification strategic studies program at the independent Seoul-based think tank Sejong Institute, told ABC News.

The North Korean leader is also indirectly demanding his neighbors to the South push the U.S. and U.N Security Council harder to lift sanctions in exchange for the two countries to resume inter-Korean cooperative projects, Cheong said.

Kim’s speech came against the backdrop of a new look with a modern setting — a carpeted library full of books, plush leather sofa and an armchair set with a mega-sized portrait painting of his father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung hanging on the wall — a sharp contrast to his usual stiff public speeches at a podium in front of tens of thousands people who dutifully respond with thunderous applause.

“It looks like he wanted to show off” that he is ready and recharged to deal with the international community after the June summit, Cheong explained.

The new look also comes in the wake of three summits — two at the border town Panmunjom and the latest in Pyongyang — with South Korean President Moon Jae In, Cheong added.

“Up until even last year, he stood and read the New Year’s speech in a rather stiff and strong tone,” Cheong said. “But this time his voice was very calm and stable. It was unprecedented.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 01 Jan 2019

In ‘unprecedented’ speech, Kim Jong Un says North Korea is ready for another summit with US, but warns against sanctions

WORLD NEWS In 'unprecedented' speech, Kim Jong Un says North Korea is ready for another summit with US, but warns against sanctions  https://linewsradio.com/in-unprecedented-speech-kim-jong-un-says-north-korea-is-ready-for-another-summit-with-us-but-warns-against-sanctions/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) — Kim Jong Un says he is ready to sit down again with President Donald Trump — but also warned the United States against imposing more sanctions.

During his annual televised New Year’s speech, the North Korean leader said he hopes a follow-up summit meeting will “produce an outcome welcomed by the international community.”

Kim and Trump met in June in Singapore for the first time in the history of the rival countries.

But in the 30-minute speech on New Year’s Day, Kim also warned that North Korea may choose a “new path” if the United States continues to “break its promises and misjudges our patience by unilaterally demanding certain things and pushes ahead with sanctions and pressure.”

In the months since the historic summit, leaders from both countries, including U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have been trying to negotiate a second meeting between Trump and Kim. Both countries, however, have been at an impasse about the progress of denuclearization.

Kim, meanwhile, also called for stronger ties with South Korea and announced a willingness to resume two inter-Korean cooperative projects in the North — Kaesong Industrial park and Mount Kumgang tourist resort — which had been halted due to strained relations.

Neither of those are currently possible for South Korea unless sanctions on the North are removed.

“Kim is hinting that if things come to worse, North Korea could go back to the economic-nuclear dual path,” Cheong Seong-chang, director of unification strategic studies program at the independent Seoul-based think tank Sejong Institute, told ABC News.

The North Korean leader is also indirectly demanding his neighbors to the South push the U.S. and U.N Security Council harder to lift sanctions in exchange for the two countries to resume inter-Korean cooperative projects, Cheong said.

Kim’s speech came against the backdrop of a new look with a modern setting — a carpeted library full of books, plush leather sofa and an armchair set with a mega-sized portrait painting of his father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung hanging on the wall — a sharp contrast to his usual stiff public speeches at a podium in front of tens of thousands people who dutifully respond with thunderous applause.

“It looks like he wanted to show off” that he is ready and recharged to deal with the international community after the June summit, Cheong explained.

The new look also comes in the wake of three summits — two at the border town Panmunjom and the latest in Pyongyang — with South Korean President Moon Jae In, Cheong added.

“Up until even last year, he stood and read the New Year’s speech in a rather stiff and strong tone,” Cheong said. “But this time his voice was very calm and stable. It was unprecedented.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 01 Jan 2019