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Paul Whelan’s brother offers update on Russian court hearing

Michigan man has been held in Russian prison since December 2018

Paul Whelan, a former US Marine accused of spying in Russia, appears in the dock at a court in Moscow (AP)
Paul Whelan, a former US Marine accused of spying in Russia, appears in the dock at a court in Moscow (AP)

Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan’s lawyers were in the Moscow city court on Tuesday appealing his detention.

Whelan’s brother, David Whelan, has been closely following his brother’s case, offering updates ever since the Novi, Mich. resident was arrested in the Russian capital city in December 2018 on the suspicion of being a spy. Paul Whelan was charged with espionage. In court in September, Whelan called the charges against him “garbage.”

Here’s the update from David Whelan on Thursday, explaining his brother will remain in a Russian prison until at least Dec. 29, 2019, and that a trial may come as early as May 2020:

"The Moscow City Court kept Paul out of the courtroom at the hearing on Tuesday as it affirmed Paul’s ongoing detention. The judge excluded Paul, ironically, by claiming that it was for his health. His health continues to go untreated at the prison, however, and the judge’s affirmation of the lower court means that Paul will remain in prison until at least December 29, 2019.

Paul's lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, spoke to media after the hearing. The court denied Paul real-time translation nor was he provided with the judge's decision. The judicial system has attempted to mute Paul while he was present - by denying translation and excluding him from the process - and now they are using technology to isolate him from the justice system. Paul cannot meet with lawyers without FSB oversight and now he can't interact with them during court hearings.

The judge claimed that Paul's exclusion was out of concern for his health. But as we learned after the Canadian embassy visit last Thursday [11/14/2019], no action has been taken by prison authorities to provide medical care to Paul. Even something as simple as providing pain medication - which must be dispensed individually wrapped - causes the prison to baulk and deny him medicine. The FSB continues to block an independent medical assessment, despite Paul's petitions for it and diplomatic notes from the embassies supporting him.

We understand that the Irish consular staff are scheduled to visit Paul today [Thursday 11/21/2019]. We appreciate the ongoing efforts of the U.S., U.K., Canadian, and Irish embassy staff to monitor Paul's health and advocate on his behalf when his rights are violated. Their in-person visits are our only regular conduit for information. Even mail sent to the embassies in Moscow by Paul takes months to arrive.

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be anyone within the FSB or prison who is listening to either Paul’s or consular complaints. Mr. Zherebenkov has indicated there may be a trial by May 2020, and this sorry state of affairs is unlikely to change before then." -- David Whelan

Paul Whelan
Paul Whelan

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