Russian court sentences American Whelan to 16 years in prison on spying charges
Whelan says he was set up by Russian officials
American business executive and ex-Marine Paul Whelan was sentenced Monday by a Russian court to 16 years in prison on spying charges.
Whelan was arrested in Moscow in December 2018. The trial was held behind closed doors.
Russian officials reportedly say Whelan was caught carrying a flash drive with classified information. Whelan and his family have denied the charges and maintain he was set up.
U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan denounced the secret trial in which no evidence was produced as an egregious violation of human rights and international legal norms. He described Whelan’s conviction as a mockery of justice and demanded his immediate release, according to the Associated Press.
Whelan's lawyers are expected to appeal the court decision.
"Paul Whelan was convicted of espionage today and sentenced to 16 years hard labor," Whelan's brother, David, said after the verdict was announced. "But it was the Russian legal system that was found guilty of injustice. ... Our family will continue to fight for Paul's release."
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