US ex-marine Paul Whelan will not appeal Russian spying sentence

Paul Whelan, a former US marine accused of espionage and arrested in Russia in December 2018, stands inside a defendants" cage as he waits to hear his verdict in Moscow on June 15, 2020Image copyright
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Former US marine Paul Whelan will not appeal against his 16-year jail sentence for spying in Russia, his lawyer says.

“[Whelan] does not believe in Russian justice,” Vladimir Zherebenkov said, according to Interfax news agency.

Mr Zherebenkov said Whelan hoped instead to be released through a future prisoner swap with the US.

Whelan, 50, was arrested in Moscow in 2018 with a USB drive which security officers say contained state secrets.

He insists he was set up.

On 15 June, a Moscow City Court found him guilty of receiving classified information.

His lawyer said at the time that he would appeal.

Russia has previously discounted the prospect of a swap with high-profile Russians in US custody, insisting that Whelan is not a “political prisoner”.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this month: “No, it is not possible. He was sentenced by a court decision, and the court decision says it all.”

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Media captionPaul Whelan denounced the closed trial as a “sham”

Whelan called the trial a “sham”, saying that without an interpreter, he could not even understand the proceedings.

The US said it was “outraged” by the sentence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for his release.

Who is Paul Whelan?

Paul Whelan is a citizen of four countries – the US, Canada, the UK and the Irish Republic.

From Novi, Michigan, he was born in Canada to British parents and moved to the US as a child.

Military records show he joined the US Marine Reserves in 1994, about six years after he had reportedly begun work as a police officer in Michigan.

He served two tours in Iraq, in 2004 and then 2006, before becoming a security executive. It was while serving in the marines that he made his first trip to Russia, and went on to visit the country many times.

Paul Whelan was arrested in his hotel room in central Moscow in December 2018.

He says he was getting ready for a wedding when an old friend turned up unexpectedly and gave him a flash drive containing what Whelan’s lawyer says his client thought were holiday photographs.

Moments later, security officers burst in and arrested him for receiving state secrets.

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Media captionPaul Whelan describes the case against him as “nonsense”

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