Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for spying in Russia.
50-year-old Whelan is a citizen of four countries, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Republic of Ireland.
He was born in Canada to British parents and later moved to the United States, in Michigan.
According to military records, he joined the US marine reserves in 1994. This was about six years after being confirmed a police officer in Michigan.
During his service in the marine, he went on two tours to Iraq in 2004 and 2006. It was also the same period of service when he made his first trip to Russia and visited the country several times.
The former U.S. marine was arrested at a Moscow hotel 18 months ago for allegations of spying. It was reported that he had a USB flash drive that security officials confirmed had state secrets.
When he was brought to trial, he was found guilty of having received classified information.
Whelan himself condemned the closed trial as a fraud before the verdict.
He said he was getting ready for a wedding when an old friend showed up unexpectedly, and moments later security guards broke in and arrested him for keeping state secrets.
In a plexiglass box in the courtroom, Whelan said it was all about political theater. He added that he did not even understand the verdict when it was read in Russian, forcing him to press a handwritten note against the front of the box that said Sham proceeding on the tope, along with other comments that mocked proceedings. In this sense, he also urged US President Donald Trump to act decisively.
Top personalities in the US have condemned the process. One of the key figures condemning the trial is the US Ambassador to Moscow, John Sullivan, who said that the process was unfair and had no transparency. He added that the sentence would harm relations between Russia and the United States.
A spokesman for the embassy said the secret trial, in which no evidence was provided, was a tremendous violation of human rights and international legal norms.
The family also said that Monday’s ruling found the Russian legal system guilty of injustice.
In a statement, the family said that the court’s decision only completes the last part of the broken lawsuit. The family hoped that the Moscow court could show some independence, but in the end, the Russian judges are political and not legal entities.
The family also said that they understood Whelan’s lawyers could appeal within two weeks and urged the U.S. government and president to take immediate steps to get him home. His brother confirmed that the lawyers will appeal the verdict.
Although there were no further details on the evidence that Whelan was actually guilty of spying on the Russian government, an appeal is expected.
An appeal is crucial because Whelan’s condition is not that of prison. He has operated for an abdominal hernia just two weeks ago. According to the embassy, the operation was an emergency because the condition was life-threatening.
Wayne Sims is the Lead Editor for Chroniclex with 12 years of experience. Wayne has been working for Many Large Online Publications for nearly a decade and has published his articles in many prints and digital publications including Erieview Newsstand, Bond Court News and Private Entertainment. When Wayne is not busy writing She likes stitching.