Novi man arrested in Russia on charges of spying

The flags of Russia and United States of America

A Novi man is being detained by the Russian government as an alleged spy, sparking concern from his family who says he is innocent.

Paul Whelan was arrested Friday in Moscow on suspicion of carrying out an act of espionage, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said. Whelan, 48, is a former Marine and his family says they are concerned for his safety.

His brother David Whelan wrote on Twitter that his family had not heard from him after his trip to Russia for a wedding. He released the following statement:

"We have read reports of the arrest in Moscow of Paul Whelan, our son and brother. Paul is a retired Marine and was visiting Moscow to attend a wedding. We noticed that he was not in communication on the 28th, which was very much out of character for him even when he was traveling. We learned of his arrest on Monday morning after his detention was picked up on newswires and have contacted Congressional representatives, the U.S. Embassy, and the State Department. We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being. His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected."

In a release from Russian News Agency TASS, Whelan faces between 10 and 20 years in jail if found guilty. 

Whelan works as the global security director of Borg Warner, a worldwide auto parts and component supplier based in Auburn Hills. He is responsible for overseeing security at facilities in Auburn Hills and at other company locations around the world, the company said in a statement.

"BorgWarner has been in contact with the relevant U.S. Government authorities in order to help our employee and the U.S. government. We ask that any further inquiries regarding this issue be directed to the U.S. State Department."

Stay with FOX 2 for more information on this developing story.