Russia seeks 18-year jail term for ex-U.S. Marine in spying trial
By Tom Balmforth and Alexander Marrow
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian prosecutors asked a court on Monday to sentence former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is on trial accused of spying for the United States, to 18 years in a maximum security prison, his lawyer said.
Whelan, a U.S. national who also holds British, Canadian and Irish passports, has been in custody since he was detained in a Moscow hotel room in December 2018. He says he was set up in a sting and has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
“The prosecution has made a very harsh demand, it’s absolutely unjustified and groundless. To be honest, we’re in shock,” Whelan’s lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov told reporters after Monday’s hearing.
The court will announce its verdict on June 15, he said.
The trial, which began on March 23, has been closed to the public as its content broaches classified information. Many of the case’s details have emerged through his lawyer.
U.S. Ambassador in Moscow John Sullivan said the proceedings amounted to a “secret trial” and a “mockery of justice”.
“There is no legitimacy to a procedure that is hidden behind closed doors. It is not transparent, it is not fair, and it is not impartial,” he said.
The prosecution accuses Whelan of being at least a ranking U.S. military intelligence colonel and that he was caught red-handed trying to obtain secrets, his lawyer said.
The defence said Whelan had only believed he was receiving photographs of a trip that he and an acquaintance had been on, not classified material, and that he had been tricked, Zherebenkov said.
“This was a game by Russia’s Federal Security Service…,” he said.
U.S. authorities have called the charges against Whelan spurious and have called on Russia to release him, describing the case as a “significant obstacle” to improving bilateral ties.
Whelan, 50, has used his appearances at hearings to allege he has been ill-treated by prison guards and been denied medical attention. Russian authorities have accused him of faking health problems to draw attention to his case.
(Additional reporting by Polina Ivanova; Editing by John Stonestreet)
More Top Stories
The first execution of a federal prisoner in more than 17 years was due to take place later on Monday, the culmination of an effort …read more
Private investment firms that manage the fortunes of wealthy individuals and their kin were approved for millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded relief loans designed to …read more
The federal judge who presided over Roger Stone’s criminal case ordered the government on Monday to explain the scope of President Donald Trump’s order commuting …read more
U.S. stock index futures rose on Monday as Pepsi kicked off the second-quarter earnings season on a bright note, with a multi-billion dollar semiconductor deal …read more
President Donald Trump on Monday took swipes at health experts in his government leading the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak, as his relationship further …read more
Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Gary Kelly told employees on Monday it needs a dramatic jump in passenger demand or it will be forced to take …read more