DETROIT – A Michigan man arrested in Russia on suspicion of being a spy is expected to be found guilty and sent to a forced labor camp.
Paul Whelan, 50, is expected to be found guilty and sentenced Monday, but his family believes that’s a positive development.
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The Russian justice system is predictable in that Whelan and his family already know his fate. He’s expected to be found guilty and sent to a forced labor camp.
“It’s been a long process, but the trial is an end point,” his brother, David Whelan, said. “It’s the next step, so I think we’re all looking forward to that being over.”
In the ongoing trial, we’ve learned Paul Whelan’s arrest and subsequent 18-month stay in Russia’s spy prison happened because a so-called Russian friend didn’t want to pay him for a couple of iPhones. They were valued at about $1,400.
He’s looking at 18 harsh years in a forced labor camp if prosecutors get their way.
David Whelan told Local 4 from Toronto via Zoom that it’s better to get this part of the case out of the way.
“The Russians have made it clear over many, many months -- starting back in July 2019 -- they were interested in doing trades with the Americans for certain Russian contacts in the American justice system and certain diplomatic properties the Americans denied them access to in Maryland and New York,” David Whelan said. “No discussions until a conviction.”
Meanwhile, Paul Whelan is back in his prison cell after emergency hernia surgery two weeks ago. Hard labor will be especially difficult for him now, experts said.
The Whelan family is left hoping the diplomats, who have only been able to visit him sporadically to date, will now be able to do their work quickly.
“Our family is hoping as soon as possible the governments will get together and figure out a way to bring him home,” David Whelan said.