Moscow court extends detention until 29 December for Paul Whelan, who says hes being kept for a potential prisoner swap

A former US marine who has been held in Russia since last year on spy charges insisted he was more Mr Bean than Mr Bond as a Moscow court extended his detention for another two months.

Paul Whelan, 49, who has US, Irish, Canadian and British citizenship, denounced the case against him and said he was being held hostage for a possible prisoner exchange.

He was arrested in December for allegedly receiving state secrets, and risks up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Russia thought they caught James Bond on a spy mission, in reality they abducted Mr Bean on holiday, he said, reading out a statement as the judge was announcing the decision to keep him in jail until 29 December.

Appearing in court in a dark sweater and jeans, he described the case against him as a hostage situation.

Asked by AFP if he thought he was being kept for a potential prisoner swap, he replied from his cage, I would characterise it that way.

Whelan asked for the prosecutor and judge to be removed from the case because complaints that he has been assaulted in jail were ignored.

Evidence that I provided has been ignored Questions of law are always decided in favour of the prosecutors and the FSB [security service], he told the judge, who rejected the requests.

I was handcuffed, held down by a guard assaulted, Whelan said, adding that the incidents were overlooked by authorities.

Whelan, a former US marine, maintains he has been framed and that he took a USB drive from an acquaintance thinking it contained holiday photos.

Whelans lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, said the acquaintance that handed over the drive is the only witness against Whelan while the rest of his longtime acquaintances in Russia gave witness statements in his defence.

The man testifying against Whelan was a provocateur, the lawyer said.

David Whelan, Pauls brother who runs a public campaign in his defence, told AFP on Wednesday that he believes Moscow to be open for a trade for Paul, exchanging him for Russians in US custody.

I think in this case, this is just lowdown extortion, ransoming, David Whelan said. Paul was grabbed up and charged with a crazy charge of espionage.

Paul Whelan frequently uses court hearings to appeal to journalists and governments, and on Thursday called on prime ministers and presidents to act decisively now and provide support.

Representatives of all four embassies were in the courtroom for the first time on Thursday.



Recommended For You

Like it? Share with your friends!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.