MOSCOW, March 16 (RAPSI) – The Moscow City Court will hear a case against a foreign citizen Paul Whelan charged with espionage against Russia, according to a statement of the court’s press service.

The case has already reached court but the hearing date has not been set yet.

The defendant is in detention. Earlier, according to his defense, Whelan was found sane.

Whelan is a citizen of the U.S., Canada, Ireland and Great Britain. He is the chief safety officer of BorgWarner, an American worldwide automotive industry components and parts supplier. The foreigner was arrested in late 2018 during “a spying mission”, according to the Federal Security Service. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

The Foreign Ministry of Russia reported earlier that papers classified as state secret were seized from Whelan during his arrest on December 28. His lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov confirmed this information.

According to Zherebenkov, his client came to Russia in December 2018 to attend the wedding of his acquaintance. He received a flash drive containing culturological information he was interested in, including photos and videos. However, there was no secret data on it, the attorney said.

Whelan was not able to use the USB-drive as he was arrested on December 2018, the lawyer added.