Chrystia Freeland criticizes Russian Federation in espionage case resulting in detention of Canadian

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption David Whelan comments on his brother's arrest by Russian authorities

Michael Morrell, former acting Central Intelligence Agency director, said: "Mr Whelan was most likely picked up by the Russians under false pretences to try and set up an exchange situation".

Russians should take every precaution when traveling overseas and ensure there's nothing in their records that might interest the United States, the Foreign Ministry warned after the 39-year-old citizen was arrested. "We are all extremely anxious about him and his family".

The worldwide links to an American charged with espionage in Russian Federation widened Friday as Ireland became the fourth nation to acknowledge Paul Whelan as a citizen and seek consular access.

"He likes to go places and Russian Federation happens to be a place where he knows people and when he's there, he does go and visit", David Whelan said.

A bail application to secure Whelan's release from Russian custody is pending.

"Work on it is in progress", the Russian state news agency Tass cited Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying.

Russian President Vladimir Putin refuted British claims the Kremlin was behind the nerve agent poisonings in Salisbury a year ago.

Whelan's British citizenship was reported by the US embassy to British officials on Thursday, according to Britain's Press Association.

The Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, has said MI resident Paul Whelan, a 48-year-old corporate security director from the Detroit area, was arrested Friday on espionage charges.

Interfax said he added that "there is no connection" with the case and any Russian citizen in the US.

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Last month, a 30-year-old Russian national pleaded guilty in Washington to being an unregistered agent of influence plotting to sway USA politics.

Well-known automotive parts manufacturer BorgWarner has confirmed that its head of security has been arrested by Russian security services.

He has been visiting Russian Federation for business and pleasure for more than a decade, his brother said.

David said he and his brother were born in Ottawa but that Paul hasn't lived in Canada since the early 1970s when the family left to the U.S.

David Whelan, meanwhile, has dismissed the allegations as nonsense.

"I'm pretty sure that some of the people he knows through social media are probably Russian soldiers because there are a lot of Russian soldiers and he probably knows one", David Whelan said in an interview.

Washington and Moscow are also holding other individuals who have been charged or convicted in criminal or espionage matters related to the other country. Both European countries are now requesting access to him, raising questions as to whether Whelan's many passports could affect potential negotiations for his release.

The Irish embassy in Moscow, without naming him, told the BBC it had requested consular access and the Irish government would "provide all possible and appropriate assistance in relation to this case".

He said his twin brother had been taking Americans associated with the wedding party on a tour around Red Square museums shortly before disappearing. That was a day after U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. met with Whelan at Lefortovo Prison in Moscow.

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