U.S. asks Russia to free citizen jailed 16 years for spying

U.S. asks Russia to free citizen jailed 16 years for spying

Monday, June 15, 2020 1:54 pm

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The United States on Monday demanded that Russia immediately release U.S. citizen Paul Whelan, after he was sentenced to 16 years in prison for espionage.

The U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan, who was present at the Moscow courthouse, condemned the trial as a miscarriage of justice, saying no evidence had been produced.

In a statement released by the U.S. embassy Sullivan said “the United States demands that U.S. citizen Paul Whelan be released immediately. His conviction is a mockery of justice. The world is watching.’’

Whelan, a former U.S. marine, was accused of having obtained classified Russian state information, the nature of which has not been disclosed.

Sullivan described it as a “secret trial in which no evidence was produced.’’

He denounced the proceedings as an “egregious violation of human rights and international legal norms.’’

Whelan, 50, has been in Russian custody for the past year and a half after being detained in Moscow in December 2018.

State media reported that he underwent surgery two weeks ago for an abdominal hernia.

The U.S. embassy said it was an “emergency surgery,’’ performed because the condition had become life-threatening.

A flash drive and documents were confiscated from Whelan while he was detained on a trip to Moscow. No further details about the evidence have been revealed.

Whelan has insisted that he is innocent. His family has said he was visiting Russia to attend a wedding.

State media however reported that his legal team vowed to appeal Monday’s verdict.

Whelan, born in Canada to British parents, is also a citizen of Canada, Britain and Ireland. He was employed by U.S. auto parts supplier BorgWarner when he was detained. (dpa/NAN)

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