Russia rejects ex-US marine’s plea for release
A former US marine suspected of espionage in Russia has held up a sign inside his defendants’ cage saying “kangaroo court”.
Paul Whelan, 48, launched an appeal against his arrest extension, saying he was assaulted by a doctor, refused medical treatment and alleging other rights violations. His request was rejected.
The US Embassy in Moscow said requests to send a doctor to examine him had been refused.
Whelan said he was set up by a Russian friend who planted a hard drive on him.
The citizen of the US, UK, Canada and Ireland was detained in Moscow for alleged spying by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) at the end of last year.
Because it is an espionage case, all the evidence is classified.
Whelan told the BBC that he had been set up and had not committed a crime.
“A person turned up at my [hotel] room and put something in my pocket, then I was arrested,” Whelan said.
“That person was an FSB officer. Someone I had known for 10 years. There was absolutely no reason that person should have been in the room. No reason they should have given me any sort of flash drive.”
He said he no idea what was on the drive while his prosecutors say it contained state secrets.
“I never looked at it. I didn’t know I had it until I was arrested. This is 100 per cent a provocation, and a really bad one,” Whelan added.
Defence lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov said no evidence had been produced showing his client’s guilt.
When the judge’s verdict was delivered saying that he would be kept in custody ahead of a trial, Whelan raised his voice calling the decision “garbage”.
“I am asking the leaders in the governments of Ottawa, Dublin, London and Washington, as well as the United Nations to intervene quickly,” he wrote in an appeal.
“Thank you to my friends and family for your support.”
The US ambassador in Russia has called on Moscow to stop “playing games” with Whelan.
“The Russian authorities haven’t come up with any evidence, any charges against him, which is simply unconscionable to be able to pick an American citizen off the street and put him in a prison — and not a very good prison at that,” said Democratic Senator Gary Peters.
His family said he was in Moscow for a wedding.
Whelan earlier appealed to Donald Trump.
“Mr President, we cannot keep America great unless we aggressively protect and defend citizens, wherever they are in the world,” he wrote.
Whelan has been mentioned in a potential prisoner swap with Washington.
Paul Whelan. Picture credit: YouTube