A Russian court has sentenced former US Marine Paul Whelan to 16 years hard labour after he was condemned of spyingcharges
Whelan, who has UK citizenship, along with US, Irish and canadian passports, has actually remained in custody in Russia considering that he was jailed in a Moscow hotel space on 28 December 2018.
Authorities stated they captured him “red-handed” with a computer memory stick including a list of secret Russian representatives.
The 50- year-old pleaded innocent, declaring he was established by a sting operation which he had actually been provided the USB drive by another person, believing it just consisted of vacation images.
However on Monday at Moscow City Court, he was founded guilty of espionage and sentenced to 16 years in an optimal security jail. The sentence read out in Russian, with Whelan not able to comprehend up until his attorney equated it for him.
His sibling David promised to appeal the decision, asking the US federal government to “immediately take steps to bring him home”.
He stated in a declaration: “The court’s decision simply finishes the final piece of this damaged judicial procedure.
“We had hoped that the court might show some independence but, in the end, Russian judges are political, not legal, entities.”
US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan explained the case versus Whelan as a “mockery of justice”.
He stated he was “crestfallen” by the judge’s decision, including: “An American citizen has been sentenced to a term of 16 years for a crime for which we have not seen evidence.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: “Annoyed by the decision today to found guilty Paul Whelan on the basis of a secret trial, with secret proof, and without suitable allowances for defence witnesses.
“Paul’s treatment by Russian authorities continues to be dreadful, and we require his instant release.”
US authorities have actually branded the case a “considerable barrier” to improving their relations with Russia and have consistently claimed there is no evidence against Whelan, calling his trial ” unjust” and ” nontransparent”.
Sky News’s Moscow reporter Diana Magnay stated Whelan’s 16- year sentence is “no excellent surprise”.
She stated: “The truth it was not the 18 years the prosecution asked for is barely a concession.
” The procedure was held completely behind closed doors, basically a secret trial in which he and all 4 ambassadors whose citizenship he holds state no proof of his regret has actually existed.
” Whelan has actually constantly preserved the trial was a sham and piece of political theatre.”
In court, he explained it as “slimy, oily, grubby Russian politics”, she added.
” The truth he did not even have actually the sentence equated for him is an indicator of simply how dispensable he as a person remains in the game of chess Russia bets the West.
“As the US ambassador John Sullivan just said ‘if it can happen to Paul, it can happen to anyone’.”