American Paul Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in prison for spying in Russia

Russian justice sentenced British American Paul Whelan to 16 years in prison for spying on Monday, an act that weighs heavily on Russian-American relations.

On Monday, June 15, a Moscow court sentenced US-British Paul Whelan to 16 years in prison for spying in Russia. The convicted man, 50 years old, pleaded not guilty and his lawyers will appeal within the legal time limit of ten days.

Present at the hearing, Paul Whelan announced immediately that he would appeal and condemned “a shame right” according to an AFP reporter on the scene.

The judge made it clear that the 50-year-old former navy will serve his sentence in a “serious regime camp”. Present at the hearing, Paul Whelan announced immediately that he would appeal and condemned “a shame right” according to an AFP reporter on the scene.

This 50-year-old man, who also has Canadian and Irish citizenship, was arrested in 2018 under a “spying act”, according to the Russian security service FSB. But Paul Whelan has since claimed his innocence.

“Russia thought it had caught James Bond on a mission. In fact, they kidnapped MrBean on vacation,” he said.

Paul Whelan claims to have been caught by an acquaintance who sent him a USB key containing what he believed were photographs taken during a previous stay in Russia with him.

Shady relations between the United States and Russia

The Paul Whelan deal is one of the many sources of tension between Moscow and Washington. It is in addition to the disputes over the Ukrainian conflict, the war in Syria and the maintenance of strategic parity between the two major powers.

US Ambassador to Moscow, John Sullivan, condemns an unfair and not very transparent trial. “It was secret, no evidence was produced,” he said, quoting the US Embassy spokesman on Twitter.

Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for Paul Whelan to be released.

According to the accused lawyer, Vladimir Yerebenkov, the prosecutor is convinced that Paul Whelan is “an officer – at least a colonel – of the US Defense Agency”.

The prisoners’ family said they believed his conviction was “inevitable” and emphasized that it should not be “based on facts”.

Security director for an American car parts manufacturer, Paul Whelan, says he was in Russia for a wedding when he was arrested.

With AFP