An American former Marine has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for espionage in Russia. He himself says that he has been trapped.
The United States wants the man to be released immediately due to lack of evidence.
50-year-old Paul Whelan was arrested in a hotel room in Moscow in 2018. He is said to have had a USB stick with Russian state secrets on it.
A Russian judge sentenced him to 16 years’ imprisonment after a trial that took place mainly behind closed doors. A sentence he will have to serve in a heavily guarded prison.
Whelan denies his guilt and says he’s been trapped.
In late 2018, he was in Moscow for a wedding. He would have accidentally got the USB stick in the hands of a Russian acquaintance and thought it was holiday photos.
Even before the verdict, Whelan called the whole process a “political sham.”
Speaking from the dock surrounded by glass, he said that Russia “feels powerless in the world” and therefore takes “political hostages”.
After the verdict, he complained that the judgment had not been translated into English and he did not know what he had been sentenced to. His lawyer announced that they would appeal.