Court in Russia sentenced Paul Whelan to 16 years in prison

American Paul Whelan convicted of espionage in Russia and sentenced to 16 years in prison

Court in Russia sentenced Paul Whelan to 16 years in prison

Court in Russia sentenced Paul Whelan to 16 years in prison

American, convicted in Moscow, called on the authorities of the USA, Canada, Great Britain and Ireland to help him

A Moscow City Court on Monday sentenced US citizen Paul Whelan to 16 years in a maximum security penal colony, found guilty of espionage. This is reported by Russian news agencies..

50-year-old Paul Whelan, who is a citizen of the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Ireland, said after the announcement of the verdict that he considers it political and intends to appeal. He also appealed to the authorities of those countries of which he is a citizen, with a request for help..

US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan was present at the Moscow City Court at the announcement of the verdict to Paul Whelan. After the verdict was announced, the diplomat told reporters that he was disappointed with this decision of the Russian court and would seek the release of Whelan..

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Court in Russia sentenced Paul Whelan to 16 years in prison

Ahead of the sentencing, spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Russia, Rebecca Ross, tweeted, stressing that if Whelan “is found guilty after this secret trial without any evidence, the world will see the Russian judicial system mock the very idea of ​​justice.”.

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The Russian prosecutor’s office demanded that Paul Whelan be punished with 18 years in prison, claiming that his guilt was fully proven in court..

Paul Whelan was detained in Moscow on December 28, 2018. His trial began only in March 2020 and was held behind closed doors, which was officially explained by the secrecy of the case materials..

During his imprisonment, Paul Whelan repeatedly complained about his deteriorating health, as well as denials of medical care or her low qualifications, insisting on an examination by American doctors. Whelan underwent surgery at the end of May this year..

Paul Whelan has repeatedly called his persecution a provocation and “absurd political kidnapping.” He also reported in October 2019 that the guards of the remand prison where he was, threatened him with a weapon..

Lawyers’ comments

Paul Whelan’s attorney Vladimir Zherebenkov in an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America, he said that both Whelan and the defenders took the sentence extremely negatively. According to him, Paul today once again explained to reporters that this is “a provocation and a crime”.

“We objectively established at the court hearing that our client was being monitored (by the special services) for several years, as the investigation claimed, but for several years,” he added. – During this time, any scenario could be prepared and implemented. It was possible, for example, the person who set him up, actually tossing him a flash drive (with the materials on the basis of which Whelan was convicted – V.V.), compromise or make him some offers that cannot be refused. In a word, the game of the special services is clearly visible here, and speaking directly, there are all the signs of provocation. “.

We had hope for a milder sentence, since we presented the court with strong evidence in terms of defense, said the lawyer, who also complained that the process was difficult, especially given the epidemiological situation in Moscow: “We were not able to interrogate 11 witnesses, and the investigator questioned them. This limited the rights of the defense. We twice asked to postpone the hearing, but the judge refused us “.

Vladimir Zherebenkov agrees that the verdict was political: “If the court were independent and fair, as it should be, taking into account the principle of impartiality and legality, then, without a shadow of doubt, they would have delivered an acquittal. When making a decision, the judge proceeded from political expediency. Because, to be honest, we are talking about a (potential) exchange. They want to change Paul Whelan for the same Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko. Recently an article was published where a retired Russian intelligence officer with the rank of colonel openly speaks about the desirability of such an option “.

Booth was sentenced in America to 25 years for international arms trade, pilot Yaroshenko was sentenced in the USA to 20 years in prison for drug smuggling on a large scale. Moscow has long wanted to return them home. So, the Deputy Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Ryabkov in 2019 at the Valdai International Discussion Club called: “Free Yaroshenko, change him to an American or Americans who are serving their sentences”.

Among other things, Vladimir Zherebenkov pointed out that there are many grounds for appealing against the verdict: “We raised the issue of the inadmissibility of two examinations, since we believe that they were carried out by incompetent specialists with no scientific education. We raised the issue of audio recordings, whether we were provided with copies or originals. Copies can be edited as you like. We announced that we would appeal the verdict. But we will finally make a decision on this on June 22. Moreover, we have not yet received the verdict, we will receive it only tomorrow. Then we will look at all the arguments of the court, and we will proceed from this “.

At the same time, the lawyer said that his client feels well. “Paul underwent surgery for a hernia in his groin on May 28 at the Sklifosovsky Institute. As he says, everything went well. The next day he was again placed in the isolation ward. Whelan asked the embassy staff to give him Miramistin for seams. Unfortunately, prison doctors do not have such a drug, ”he summed up.

Court in Russia sentenced Paul Whelan to 16 years in prison

“Moscow wants to bring out some interesting characters”

Member of the Standing Committee of the Forum of Free Russia, ex-lawyer Mark Feigin is familiar with espionage cases in practice. According to his testimony, they are always closed..

“What charges were brought against a person is known only to the participants in the process,” he explained in a commentary to the Voice of America. – Therefore, it is impossible to reliably judge what exactly Mr. Whelan is accused of. All such cases are handled by the FSB, and their outcome is a foregone conclusion. An American citizen is close to the maximum term. 16 years for the court of first instance, in general, the standard option “.

What were the grounds to accuse a US citizen of espionage, in view of the above, I cannot judge, the ex-lawyer stated: “But based on my experience, I can assume that most likely there was an operational game in which Whelan was involved. Cases of espionage against American citizens are accepted in Russia at the highest level. Because it is fraught with complication of relations between the countries “.

It looks like everything is moving towards an exchange between Moscow and Washington, Mark Feigin admitted..

“Perhaps the whole game was started to get a hostage and exchange him for one of the Russians serving a sentence in American prisons. Moscow wants to bring out some interesting characters. In particular, Viktor Bout. I would not rule out such a turn. There is an unspoken practice of such exchanges. There is already a question of how they will agree, “he concluded..

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