A former US Marine arrested on suspicion of espionage in Moscow had classified Russian material when he was arrested, his lawyer said.
Paul Whelan, also a UK citizen, was imprisoned a few moments after his transfer A USB drive he believed contained "cultural information," according to Vladimir Zherebenkov.
The lawyer talked to reporters before his client first appeared in court on Tuesday since he was arrested in Moscow late last year.
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The judges rejected the petition for the release of Mr. Whelan during a brief hearing in the Russian capital and decided that he should remain in custody.
The former military official was arrested at his hotel. Russia's Federal Security Service on December 28.
"At the time of his detention, Whelan had some state secrets, Mr. Zherebenkov told Tass.
The agency cited the lawyer Mr. Whelan "expected to receive information from the public on cultural purposes," including photographs of churches.
"Whelan is interested in Russia, he is a cultural science specialist, he has friends in Russia, so it is not surprising the fact that he was interested in information of cultural significance," Zherebenkov added. "He expected legal documents Obtaining an open nature, but for some reason, he received secret information that he could not even download from a flash drive. "
Russian news agencies citing unnamed intelligent sources Mr. Whelan had previously received a USB flash drive that
Whelan's family insisted that he was innocent and was at a wedding in Moscow.
His arrest prompted speculation to be swapped for one of the US-arrested Russians such as the gun rights activist Maria Butina, who was guilty has to act as a foreign agent.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied his detention through a possible prisoner exchange.
"He was caught red handed," Lavrov said. "He was arrested the moment he made certain illegal activities in his hotel."
Mr Whelan is a citizen of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada and the United States.