American in Russian Prison: I'm Being Abused

'This is typical,' Paul Whelan tells reporters
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 25, 2019 12:10 PM CDT
Updated May 25, 2019 12:45 PM CDT
American in Russian Prison: I'm Being Abused
Paul Whelan, a former US Marine, right, who was arrested in Moscow at the end of last year, is escorted for a hearing in a court in Moscow, Russia, Friday, May 24, 2019.   (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

A Russian court on Friday extended the arrest for a former US Marine charged with espionage, who complained in court about abuse in custody. Paul Whelan was arrested at the end of December in a hotel room in the Russian capital of Moscow where he was attending a wedding. He was charged with espionage, which carries up to 20 years in prison in Russia. Whelan denies the charges of spying for the US that his lawyers said stem from a sting operation. Whelan's lawyer has said his client was handed a flash drive that had classified information on it that he didn't know about. The court ruled Friday to keep the Michigan resident, who also holds British, Irish, and Canadian citizenship, behind bars for three more months.

Whelan told reporters in court that he has been threatened and subjected to "abuses and harassment" in prison. "I haven't had a shower in two weeks. I can't use a barber, I have to cut my own hair," a visibly agitated Whelan said from the defendant's dock. "This is typical prisoner of war isolation technique. They're trying to run me down so that I will talk to them." Andrea Kalan, a spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Moscow, said Friday that they are disappointed with the ruling, arguing there is "no evidence of any wrongdoing." "The mature, civilized course would be to let Paul go home to his elderly parents, who are wondering if they'll see their son alive again," Kalan said. (See how a flash drive and possible vacation pics played into Whelan's arrest.)

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