A Russian appeals court today rejected the appeal of the imprisoned American Paul Whelan against a sentence of a regional court that refused to admit his request to be transferred to a US prison to serve the 16-year sentence there. imprisonment for espionage.
The press service of the fourth chamber of the Nizhny Novgorod Court of Appeal confirmed the decision of Judge Nikolai Volkov, to confirm the sentence of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Mordovia, where Whelan is serving the sentence, which last September did not admit the motion of defense.
Lawyers for the American, a former Marine, said they will appeal the sentence in a court of cassation and did not rule out going to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Whelan was detained on December 28, 2018, by agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in a Moscow hotel for alleged “espionage activities” in favor of the United States.
The Russian authorities accused him of having received from an acquaintance a memory stick that allegedly “contained the complete list of the workers of a secret service”.
Whelan denied all the accusations and described the case as “political kidnapping”, while his family assured him that he had traveled to Moscow to attend a wedding.
The attorney general indicated in the court hearing on Monday that the American, who also has British, Irish, and Canadian nationality, was “people from the intelligence service of the Department of Defense and tried to obtain data on students from the academy of the Federal Service of Defense. Security “ (FSB, former KGB).
Whelan’s lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, told the media that the former Marine received false information about students at the FSB academy, as there was data on the memory stick of people “who do not exist”, suggesting that it was a trap.
“For this reason, he did not objectively cause any damage to Russia,” which monitored his client for more than a year, he emphasized, according to the Interfax agency.
Whelan’s name emerged at the summit held by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden in Geneva last June.
Putin said then that Moscow and Washington could reach “certain commitments” to exchange their imprisoned citizens since there is no extradition treaty between the two countries.
Currently, seventeen US citizens, many of them with dual citizenship, are being held in Russian prisons, according to a list by the Federal Prison Service of Russia.
In turn, of the Russians serving a prison sentence in the United States, the best known is Viktor But, an arms dealer who was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and extradited to the American country.
Whelan’s lawyer said today, however, that there are no talks between Russia and the US on this matter.
“Everything is stagnant,” he said. In his view, this is because the US considers Whelan a “hostage.”