Spike in ‘cathedral tourism’ thanks to cultural pursuits of ‘spies’? Twitter notices a pattern

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.

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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.

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?

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.

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