American accused of being a 'Russian spy'

Paul Whelan, the former U.S. Marine, appeared in a Moscow court on Tuesday for a pretrial bail hearing, the first time he has been seen publicly since he was arrested in late December.
1:53 | 01/23/19

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Transcript for American accused of being a 'Russian spy'
A former U.S. Marine accused of spying in Moscow. He was seen in public for the first time since his arrest today. Paul Whelan speaking with his Russian lawyer and his interpreter. And what that lawyer revealed about a thumb drive former U.S. Marine had. ABC's chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz on the case again tonight. Reporter: Today, after nearly a month in a notorious Russian prison, Paul Whelan standing before a judge in Moscow, facing charges of espionage, the first time he has been seen in public since his arrest. The judge denying bail and ordering Whelan back to prison until his trial. The family can't really do much. If the government isn't going to take action, I think Paul is in serious trouble. Reporter: David Whelan saying his brother was in Russia for a wed egg, and there was no way he was acting as a spy. Whelan's Russian lawyer today saying Whelan's arrest came minutes after he received a thumb drive. Russian media reporting it was a list of secret Russian operatives. The lawyer saying Whelan was expecting pictures of sightseeing spots and had no idea the thumb drive held state secrets. But analysts believe that this may be payback for the arrest of MARIA butina, the Russian agent who pleaded guilty to trying to infiltrate American conservative political circles. This is common kgb trade craft. To set somebody up who clearly was not a spy, and to trade them later on for somebody who is a spy. And Martha Raddatz with us again tonight. Martha, we know he was a former marine, but we also know he was discharged from Reporter: Yes, David. Ten years ago, Whelan was kicked out for attempted larceny and dereliction of duty, among other charges. But if the Russians find him guilty of spying, he could face 20 years in prison. David? Martha Raddatz, who continues to follow this case for us, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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