A Marine veteran who has been jailed for nearly a year in Russia on espionage charges has lost his job with an automotive parts supplier, where his position was eliminated as part of a corporate restructuring.
Paul Whelan, 49, had worked as the director for global security for Auburn, Mich.,-based BorgWarner since 2017 and was responsible for security at its facilities around the world.
“His position was eliminated as part of that,” company spokeswoman Kathy Graham told The Detroit News of the restructuring first announced in April.
Whelan’s brother, David, told the newspaper his brother’s firing “increases the strain on our family’s ability to keep some semblance of his former life ready for when he returns home.”
The News said the company doesn’t have any facilities in Russia but does have customers there.
Whelan is approaching the one-year mark since he was first detained in Russia on suspicion of receiving state secrets. He was arrested Dec. 28, 2018, in a Moscow hotel while visiting for a friend’s wedding. He has denied the allegations.
He has said he is held as a pawn in a potential prisoner swap between Russian and the United States. He accused Moscow of retaliating for sanctions after its interference the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
His detention has repeatedly been extended without trial, and he claims to have been assaulted in jail and believes his life is in danger. Russian officials allege Whelan is lying about his treatment and deteriorating health.
Whelan, of Novi, Mich., also holds British, Irish and Canadian citizenships. Congress has demanded Moscow present evidence against him or release him.
“Without action in Washington, D.C., to secure his freedom, his life will continue to unravel and Paul will end up spending many more months as a political prisoner of the Russian government,” David Whelan said.
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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