Paul Whelan Sentenced To 16 Years After Trial That U.S. Ambassador Calls ‘Mockery Of Justice’
Trial of Paul Whelan begins in Moscow
US Ambassador to Russia Sullivan said there is no evidence in the case of an American whom Moscow accuses of espionage
MOSCOW – Long-awaited trial of former US Marine accused of espionage begins in Moscow.
US officials say Russia has not provided evidence in the espionage case, which has become an additional irritant in the already difficult relationship between the two countries..
50-year-old Paul Whelan was arrested by FSB agents in late December 2018 after he allegedly received classified materials on a computer flash drive in a hotel in central Moscow..
Whelan has repeatedly denied these allegations..
The former Marine, who holds British, Canadian and Irish passports in addition to US citizenship, also claims to have been mistreated and denied medical attention while in custody..
US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan on Monday joined his UK and Irish counterparts in the courtroom, where the presiding judge allowed them to speak briefly with Whelan before going into private, which is standard Russian practice in “top secret” cases. about espionage.
“For me, an American and the US Ambassador, it is sad to see a citizen of my country today in such a situation: with unresolved serious health problems and without any evidence justifying his being in prison for more than a year, without contact with his family, despite repeated his and my inquiries to the Russian government, ”Sullivan said after leaving court in a press statement..
“I hope that as this trial progresses, we will see an honest and transparent trial,” he added. – Any person, citizen of any country in the world deserves it “.
In turn, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused Whelan of feigning illness, which, according to the department, is part of his training as an intelligence officer and the tactics he resorts to after he was allegedly caught red-handed by the Russian special services.
If convicted of the charges against him, Whelan faces 10 to 20 years in prison.
Whelan’s Russian lawyers Olga Karlova and Vladimir Zherebenkov pledged to organize vigorous defense.
Speaking to reporters, Zherebenkov said that he intends to call at least a dozen witnesses – Russians, with whom Whelan has contacted during numerous visits to the Russian Federation in recent years.
Whelan’s lawyers also made it clear that they were planning to call embassy officials to testify, which they said would prove Whelan’s innocence of espionage charges..
“We will ask to interrogate the embassies to prove that Whelan could not physically be an intelligence officer, being a citizen of four countries,” Zherebenkov said, according to the Interfax news agency..
“It’s just not possible,” he added..