Spike in ‘cathedral tourism’ thanks to cultural pursuits of ‘spies’? Twitter notices a pattern
A lawyer for Paul Whelan, the American arrested in Moscow on suspicion of espionage, has claimed that he simply wanted pictures of Russian cathedrals, but happened to receive a memory stick containing state secrets instead.
The defense immediately drew comparisons with the case of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the two Russian citizens who claimed they were only in Salisbury to visit its cathedral after the UK government accused them of being part of a plot to poison ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal last year.Also on rt.com Ex-US Marine Paul Whelan charged with spying was in possession of Russian ‘state secrets’ – lawyer
According to his lawyer, Whelan is someone who is interested in Russia and was “keen to get information of cultural interest” — including the pictures of cathedrals. Astute Twitter users quickly pointed out that the ex-marine seemed to be using the same excuse as Petrov and Boshirov...and they had some burning questions.
In the strange case of Paul Whelan, his lawyer says Whelan was expecting photos of Russian churches but got memory stick containing state secrets. https://t.co/S5lUJ4V5YJ— Lucian Kim (@Lucian_Kim) January 22, 2019
Chief among those questions: What’s with accused spies and visiting cathedrals? Is there a conspiracy here? Is ‘visiting a cathedral’ some kind of code for other super-secret spy activities?
So many cathedral fans with military backgrounds running around it's hard to keep track of them all! https://t.co/TQmk33IqtK— Ian Wilkie (@Wilkmaster) January 22, 2019
Could Paul Whelan's supposed interest in a Russian church be some sort of "reciprocal response" to Petrov & Boshirov's obsession with Salisbury Cathedral?— Lucian Kim (@Lucian_Kim) January 22, 2019
Is "visiting cathedrals" some sort of "spy" codespeak?...🤔— David P Hughes (@dayvehuse) January 22, 2019
Churches and espionage sure has been a thing lately.— Brian C... (@BrianC380) January 22, 2019
This: tinker tailor soldier spire 2.0 https://t.co/HzPDhq2Mrr— Ivor Crotty (@IvorCrotty) January 22, 2019
Whelan's lawyer confirmed on Tuesday that at the time of his detention, he was in possession of "some documents containing state secrets" but added that his client may not have been aware that flash drive contained more than pictures of churches.
Of course, perhaps Whelan really was only interested in cultural pursuits during his visit to Moscow, as his lawyer claims. Russian churches are rather nice, after all.
In fairness to Paul Whelan, Russian churches ARE pretty spectacular (and the one Petrov and Boshirov wanted to visit in Salisbury is pretty nice, too) so maybe we should give these Cathedral enthusiasts the benefit of the doubt.— Danielle Ryan (@DanielleRyanJ) January 22, 2019
Like this story? Share it with a friend!