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Russian court sentences US citizen Paul Whelan to 16 years in prison

By | Rachel Brooks

Staff | Telegraph Local 

See | The New African Living Standard

Above, Moscow City Court created by Andy Volykhov in 2008 CC By SA 4.0 International license.

The Russian court has sentenced U.S. citizen Paul Whelan to 16 years in prison. U.S. Marine Whelan has been sentenced in Russia on charges of espionage. This was reported by CBS This Morning broadcast one June 15. Whelan was arrested in 2018 on allegations of espionage. He was arrested in Moscow. In his possession was a USB drive, which Russian officials stated contained “secrets.”  The BBC reports that Whelan was convicted in Moscow City Court. Russian officials say his release is “not possible.” 

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for Whelan’s immediate release. This was reported by the BBC’s Moscow correspondence within the last few hours. 

“The United States is outraged by the decision of a Russian court today to convict US citizen Paul Whelan after a secret trial, with secret evidence, and without appropriate allowances for defence witnesses,” said Pompeo, as quoted by the BBC. 

Secretary Pompeo likewise took to his Twitter handle to offer rebuke for the Russian decision to hold Whelan.

“Outraged by the decision today to convict Paul Whelan on the basis of a secret trial, with secret evidence, and without appropriate allowances for defense witnesses. Paul’s treatment by Russian authorities continues to be appalling, and we demand his immediate release,” said Pompeo, in a tweet that was posted at 7:04 am on June 15. 

The usually quite social media vocal Commander-in-Chief President Trump has not, at this time, commented on Whelan’s sentencing. Mr. Trump appeared to be preoccupied with the politics surrounding his election rally, and commented on his opposition regarding said rallies. 

Vice President Pence did not choose to comment via Twitter on Whelan’s sentencing either.

The BBC reports that the U.S. is “outraged” with the sentencing of Whelan, which appears to be without the possibility of extradition. 

At his sentencing, Mr. Whelan was photographed holding a sign that read “Sham trial” and that “Decisive action from POTUS and PMs needed.” This photograph appears in a post by MLive Michigan in an article that was posted at 10:56 am on June 15. The photo was created by Sofia Sandurskaya of the Moscow News Agency and obtained by the Associated Press.  

Mr. Whelan is a native of Novi, Michigan, citing MLive. Mr. Whelan served as a security guard for BorgWarner in Auburn Hills, Michigan before he was arrested while visiting a wedding in Moscow in December 2018. The accused spy has continued to plead with Mr. Trump to intervene in his sentencing, declaring his innocence all the while. This was reported by Detroit Free Press on June 20, 2019, nearly an exact year ago. Mr. Whelan is insistent that he is the victim of “political kidnapping.” 

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 Governor Gretchen Whitmer has not commented via social media regarding the sentencing of Mr. Whelan. This comes despite the fact that Detroit News had recently warned that Mr. Whelan could face as many as 18 years in a labor camp. This was reported on June 12. This sentence appears to be reduced to 16 years. It is unclear if he will serve any time in a labor camp. 

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