On 28 December Paul Whelan was arrested in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow shortly after somebody allegedly handed him a memory stick allegedly containing a list of names of Russian Officers. A week later and it is news in the west.
Is Paul Whelan working for US intelligence? I think not. But I am waiting for more information to emerge. He is probably a victim like Maria Butina although I doubt up to now whether he has been cavity searched as much as she has, or stuck in solitary confinement as many hours a day as she is, though I have no knowledge of Russian techniques to extract a confession.
If his VK account is anything to go by he is just an ordinary bloke with as much dislike of his government policies (UK or US) as I have. Of course that could be a cover if he was working for intelligence. So we have to wait and see.
There are good reasons I don’t think he is a spy or agent. Look at the photos he posts like the one in support of Spartak Moscow. As far as I know spies do not normally have images all over the place. If he is a spy it’s a good guise. As to other type of guys I think he has overdone it with two comments in consecutive years made on 5 November.
In 2012 he wrote “Remember, remember the Fifth of November, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot” and in 2013 “Happy Guy Fawkes Day!!!!” If I wanted to attract the attention of the secret services of any country I could quite easily do it with a couple of comments like that which suggest I loathe my country. Russia says that the person who passed on the flash card to Paul Whelan was a Russian national who he had known for some time.
As well as that he has left a comment in Romanian with the same degree of overkill. Or I have made a mistake. With “Hic sunt dracones” on 19 Feb 2013 I am assuming he is trying to say “Here be dragons” which, unless there is some idiom lost on me, would be “Aici sunt dragones”. To get two out of three words wrong is pushing it a bit.
For now the Jury’s out. It may be a while deliberating and without further information will have to acquit him on current evidence. I will share one of the comments he made which resonated with me.
Finally it needs to be said that anyone who would work for the secret services of any country has no moral integrity. I hope Paul is soon back with his family. I have the same hopes for Maria Butina and Yulia Skripal. Sadly I cannot see Yulia being alive.