“To recognize Paul Whelan guilty in the commitment of espionage and impose defendant Whelan penalty of incarceration for 16 years in the high-security prison,” judge of Moscow city court Andriy Suvorov delivered the sentence.
Due to the fact that the materials of the case are classified, the court sessions took place in a closed regime. Mass media and observers were not admitted to the session.
50-year-old Whelan, who earlier served at the U.S. Marine Corps, believes that the sentence is politically motivated and the accusations are fabricated. Despite the American one, he also has the citizenship of the UK, Canada, and Ireland. That is why he appealed to the leaders of the U.S., the UK, and Canada with a request to respond to the illegal actions of the Russian authorities.
On May 25, Whelan asked to justify him.
According to the investigation, Whelan worked in favor of the American special services. He was charged with espionage. Whelan stated that an FSB employee might hold a provocation against him and he knew that employee for about ten years.
The flash drive confiscated from him contained information, which makes a state secret.
According to Whelan, he thought that the flash drive contains photos from vacation, not secret information. His acquaintance gave him the flash drive.
U.S. Ambassador in Moscow John Sullivan stated that he ‘is disappointed and furious’ by the sentence and finds it unfounded. Concerning the possible swap, the American diplomat stated he is not authorized to discuss such issues but he promised to seek justice for Whelan.
British Ambassador Deborah Bronnert stated that she will raise the issue of Paul Whelan during the talks with the Russian authorities.
Kremlin’s representative Dmitry Peskov stated that it is not right to consider Whelan as a political prisoner because he is sentenced by the court.
Paul Whelan was detained in Moscow on December 28, 2018. He is accused of espionage but he denies all charges. However, if the court finds him guilty, he will face up to 20 years in prison.
Later Russian authorities rejected Britain’s suggestion that it might use the ex-U.S. Marine detained in Moscow on espionage charges as a pawn in the diplomatic game. Besides, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia stated that the news on discussions about a possible spy swap with former U.S. marine Paul Whelan is fake.