Britain Warns Russia Against ‘Chess Games’ Over Alleged Spy

Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt (C)/ AFP


Britain warned Russia on Friday against playing “diplomatic chess games” following the arrest of Paul Whelan, an ex-Marine with dual UK and US citizenship, on charges of espionage.

“We don’t agree with individuals being used in diplomatic chess games… We are all extremely worried about him and his family,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC in an interview.

“We need to see what these charges are against him,” Hunt said, adding that Britain had offered consular access to Whelan but had not been able to visit him yet.

US ambassador Jon Huntsman visited Whelan at the Lefortovo prison in Moscow on Wednesday.

Asked whether the Foreign Office would change its travel advice for British citizens going to Russia, Hunt said: “This is obviously something that is under active consideration.”

Whelan’s lawyer said on Thursday that he was detained in Moscow last week and charged with espionage.

Whelan, who has denied the charges, could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

Diplomatic relations between Britain and Russia are tense, particularly following the attempted murder of a former Russian spy in Britain last year with a nerve agent.

Britain accused Russia of being behind the attack despite Moscow’s denials, and coordinated the expulsions of dozens of Russian diplomatic staff around the world.


Trump Has ‘Black And White’ World View, Says UK Foreign Minister

File photo of Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt (C) phot:  ATTA KENARE / AFP


British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Friday criticised Donald Trump’s view of the world after the US president’s announcement of a withdrawal of American troops from the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.

“President Trump makes a speciality of talking in very black and white terms about what’s happening in the world,” Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We have made massive progress in the war against Daesh (Arabic acronym for IS), but it’s not over and, although they have lost nearly all the territory they held, they still hold some territory and there is still some real risk,” he said.

“We have to continue to be vigilant,” he added.

Trump announced the pull-out last week, stunning allies including Britain and France who warned that the fight against jihadists in Syria was not finished.

Some 2,000 US troops, joined by other foreign forces, have been assisting local fighters battling against IS.

Britain takes part in the coalition by carrying out air strikes in IS-held areas in Iraq and Syria.

During a visit to Iraq this week, Trump declared an end to the US role of being the world’s “policeman”.

“We don’t want to be taken advantage of any more by countries that use us and use our incredible military to protect them,” he said.

Asked what would happen if US troops also withdrew from Afghanistan, Hunt said: “We will continue to do everything we need to do to make sure the streets of Britain are safe.

“This is a security issue for the UK as well as for Afghanistan,” he said.