A Russian courtroom has sentenced former US Marine Paul Whelan to 16 years in jail after he was discovered responsible of spying expenses.
Whelan, who has UK citizenship, in addition to US, Canadian and Irish passports, has been in custody in Russia since he was arrested in a Moscow lodge room on 28 December 2018.
Police stated they caught him “red-handed” with a pc reminiscence stick containing a listing of secret Russian brokers.
The 50-year-old pleaded not responsible, claiming he was arrange by a sting operation and that he had been given the flash drive by another person, pondering it solely contained vacation pictures.
However immediately at Moscow Metropolis Court docket, he was convicted and sentenced to 16 years in a most safety jail.
His brother David vowed to attraction the decision, asking the US authorities to “instantly take steps to carry him residence”.
He stated in an announcement: “The courtroom’s resolution merely completes the ultimate piece of this damaged judicial course of.
“We had hoped that the courtroom may present some independence however, ultimately, Russian judges are political, not authorized, entities.”
US officers have described the case as a “important impediment” to bettering their relations with Russia and have persistently claimed there isn’t any proof towards Whelan, branding his trial “unfair” and “opaque”.
Sky Information’s Moscow correspondent Diana Magnay stated Whelan’s 16-year sentence is “no nice shock”.
She stated: “The very fact it was not the 18 years the prosecution requested is hardly a concession. The method was held fully behind closed doorways, primarily a secret trial during which he and all 4 ambassadors whose citizenship he holds say no proof of his guilt has been introduced.
“Whelan has all the time maintained the trial was a sham and piece of political theatre.”
In courtroom immediately, he described it as “slimy, greasy, grubby Russian politics”, she added.
“The very fact he didn’t even have the sentence translated for him is a sign of simply how dispensable he was a person within the sport of chess Russia performs towards the West.
“Because the US Ambassador John Sullivan simply stated: “If it could actually occur to Paul, it could actually occur to anybody”.”