The United States on Wednesday formally protested over the arrest in Russia of former US marine Paul Whelan, who has been jailed on charges of espionage since December.
The US embassy in Moscow has asked that allegations of mistreatment in pre-trial detention be investigated and Whelan’s safety guaranteed, according to spokeswoman Andrea Kalan.
“We have protested to the (foreign ministry) Paul Whelan’s mistreatment while in custody,” Kalan wrote on Twitter.
“Welfare of US citizens abroad is our highest priority,” she added.
The Russian ministry responded via its own Twitter account, suggesting the US instead comment on the rights of incarcerated Russian citizens on its territory.
The US note of protest comes a few days after Whelan’s latest appeal of arrest conditions was rejected.
Whelan, who was arrested in December after allegedly receiving state secrets, maintains that he has been framed and that he took a USB drive from an acquaintance thinking it contained vacation photos.
During his most recent hearing, he made a direct appeal to US President Donald Trump.
“Mr President — we cannot keep America great unless we aggressively protect and defend citizens wherever they are in the world,” he said.
Whelan is among high-profile detainees mooted for a potential prisoner swap with the United States. He also holds Canadian, Irish and British passports.
His relatives in the US have mounted a campaign for his release. His sister met National Security Advisor John Bolton and top Russia advisor Fiona Hill earlier this month, according to a statement by his brother David Whelan.
Whelan has complained of pressure and said Russian authorities are isolating him to coerce a confession due to lack of evidence of his involvement in espionage.
WATCH: Ben Carson thanks God for Trump in bizarre prayer — and then asks Him to ‘Keep America Great’
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Monday opened up the White House cabinet meeting with a bizarre prayer that explicitly thanked God for the existence of President Donald Trump.
Carson began his prayer with a standard invocation thanking God for "the blessings that you have bestowed upon this country."
After that, though, Carson gave God a thumbs-up for the work He's done in putting Trump in the White House.
"We thank You for President Trump, who also exhibits great courage in face of constant criticism," Carson said. "We ask you give him strength to endure and wisdom to lead and to recognize you as the sovereign of the universe, with the solution to everything."
Bill Barr sparks anxiety within the CIA as he investigates ‘origins’ of Mueller’s Russia probe: security analyst
As the Justice Department, headed by Attorney General William Barr, investigates the origins of the Russia investigation, some CIA operatives who played a role in gathering intelligence for Robert Mueller's probe are hiring lawyers, according to NBC News national security reporter Ken Dilanian.
According to various reports, President Trump has granted Barr with "expansive powers" for the investigation and he's reportedly seeking to question CIA analysts.
Speaking to MSNBC's Morning Joe this Monday, Dilanian said that while it's not clear what Barr's intentions are, many in the CIA are "very rattled" at the news.
White House personnel chief delivers a new blow to Trump: Top DHS candidates are not legally qualified
President Donald Trump's quest to find an acting replacement for departed Department of Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen was dealt a significant blow on Monday.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House personnel office chief Sean Doocey has informed the president that he doesn't believe either of his top two picks are legally qualified to hold the position.
As the Journal notes, "federal statute that governs vacancies states that acting officials in cabinet-level positions must either be next in line for a position or hold a Senate-confirmed position." Neither Ken Cuccinelli, who heads the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, nor Mark Morgan, who leads Customs and Border Protection, meet those standards, Doocey determined.