Russian Courtroom Sentences Paul Whelan, an American, to 16 Years on Spy Costs

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MOSCOW — A court docket in Moscow on Monday sentenced an American former Marine to 16 years in a high-security jail on espionage prices that and his household have described as a instrument to extend his worth in a possible future commerce for Russians held in the USA.

The previous Marine, Paul N. Whelan, 50, had been a frequent customer to Russia earlier than his final journey to the nation resulted in December 2018 with an arrest at a luxury hotel in Moscow, the place he was attending a wedding, by brokers of the Federal Safety Service.

“That is all a political theater,” Mr. Whelan mentioned after the announcement of the sentence, which was two years shorter than prosecutors had requested for. He added that he didn’t perceive a phrase of what had occurred throughout the proceedings on Monday as a result of they had been performed fully in Russian.

Mr. Whelan, who additionally holds British, Irish and Canadian citizenships, has been held in a excessive safety jail in Moscow since his arrest, and he has publicly expressed his anger along with his detention and insisted that he’s harmless.

Mr. Whelan as soon as described the authorized course of into which he had been caught up as “the Moscow goat rodeo,” and at one level he reached out to President Trump to “hold America nice” by taking motion to safe his launch.

“We had hoped that the court docket may present some independence however, in the long run, Russian judges are political, not authorized, entities,” mentioned David Whelan, Mr. Whelan’s brother, in an announcement after the decision. “We perceive that Paul’s legal professionals might enchantment this determination throughout the subsequent two weeks. We hope that, of their continued seek for justice for Paul, that the enchantment is profitable. However Russians don’t anticipate justice from their authorized system, and neither will we.”

Now that his brother has been convicted by a court docket, David Whelan mentioned he hoped that the governments of Russia and the USA might begin discussing his launch.

Paul Whelan’s trial has been closed to the general public. Vladimir A. Zherebenkov, his lawyer, mentioned that the Russian prosecution had little proof to assist their case.

Mr. Whelan has maintained {that a} Russian good friend handed him a thumb drive he had thought contained footage from their latest journey to a monastery city close to Moscow, however Russian officers mentioned it contained labeled data.

“Paul knew dozens of individuals in Russia, not a single one among them mentioned that he tried to recruit them,” Mr. Zherebenkov mentioned in a phone interview earlier than the sentence was introduced. “We consider this was a provocation.”

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