Categories: World News

Russia To Deliver Verdict In Spy Trial Of US Ex-Marine

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 22, 2019, Paul Whelan, a former US Marine accused of espionage and arrested in Russia, listens to his lawyers while standing inside a defendants’ cage during a hearing at a court in Moscow. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

 

 

A Russian court on Monday will deliver a verdict in the trial of former US marine Paul Whelan who risks up to 20 years in prison on an espionage charge.

The hearing at Moscow City Court is due to start at 0800 GMT.

The trial has been held behind closed doors because Whelan is accused of seeking to obtain state secrets.

The 50-year-old has been held in a Moscow prison since he was arrested in December 2018.

He has maintained his innocence, saying he was framed and comparing himself to the hapless comedy character Mr Bean.

“Russia thought they caught James Bond on a spy mission, in reality, they abducted Mr Bean on holiday,” he said.

Whelan says he was detained on a visit to Moscow to attend a wedding when he took a USB drive from an acquaintance thinking it contained holiday photographs.

The prosecution has asked the judge to sentence Whelan to 18 years in a strict-regime penal colony, just short of the 20 years maximum term for the charge.

– ‘Mr Bean on holiday’ –

The trial comes during an exceptional chill in US and Russia relations and has further exacerbated tensions.

The United States Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan has condemned the trial as unfair and lacking transparency.

“It was secret, no evidence was produced, no allowances were made for defense witnesses,” he was quoted as saying in a tweet by the embassy spokeswoman.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted last month: “We demand Paul’s release.”

The prosecutor summed up last month by saying Whelan tried to receive secret information that is a state secret and could harm Russia’s security, the American’s lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov told reporters.

The prosecutor claimed that Whelan has the rank of an officer — “at least a colonel” — at the US defence intelligence agency, the lawyer said.

Whelan’s family said they see a guilty verdict as a “foregone conclusion” while insisting this would “not be based on facts or justice”.

Whelan was dishonourably discharged as a marine before working as head of global security at a US auto parts company.

There have been suggestions that if convicted, Whelan, who also has British, Canadian, and Irish passports, could be returned to the US in a prisoner swap.

His twin brother David said in a statement that the family hopes that a conviction will allow Russia and the United States to “begin discussing Paul’s release immediately”.

Whelan has complained of being mistreated in prison and late last month underwent an operation in a Moscow hospital that his family said was emergency hernia surgery.

The US embassy criticised the Russian authorities for waiting till his condition was “life-threatening to provide him medical attention”, while the Russian foreign ministry described the procedure as “simple”.

AFP

Akinola Ajibola

Disqus Comments Loading...
Share
Published by
Akinola Ajibola
Tags: Russia US Spy

Recent Posts

  • Coronavirus
  • World News

COVID-19: US Reports 52,000 New Cases In 24 Hours

  The US notched more than 52,000 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours Wednesday, a tally by Johns Hopkins University…

5 hours ago
  • Headlines

Nigeria’s COVID-Cases Cross 27,000 Mark With 626 New Infections

  Nigeria's COVID-19 cases on Thursday crossed the 27, 000 mark as the country reported 626 new infections.  This is…

6 hours ago
  • Local

Peru Surpasses 10,000 Coronavirus Deaths

  Peru surpassed 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday, the health ministry said, a day after the government began…

6 hours ago
  • Coronavirus

NAFDAC Officials Disrupt Unveiling Of COVID-19 Herbal Syrup In Ogun

  Officials of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) have reportedly disrupted the unveiling of…

7 hours ago
  • Politics

VIDEO: APC Caretaker Committee Members Meet Tinubu

    Members of the Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have met behind closed-door with National Leader…

7 hours ago
  • Local

IBAN Asks NBC To Suspend New Broadcasting Code

  The Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (IBAN) has asked the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to suspend the implementation of…

7 hours ago