Tuesday 16 July 2019

Man with Irish passport held in Russia on suspicion of spying urges Government to help him

Former US marine: Paul Whelan is escorted into a court hearing. Photo: Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov/File Photo
Former US marine: Paul Whelan is escorted into a court hearing. Photo: Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov/File Photo

Maxim Rodionov

A FORMER US Marine held in Russia on suspicion of spying called on Ireland, America, Britain and Canada to help him as he appeared in court at an appeal hearing on Thursday.

Paul Whelan, who holds Irish, US, British, and Canadian passports, was detained in a Moscow hotel room on December 28 and accused of espionage, a charge he denies. If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in jail.

Mr Whelan said last month that he had been threatened by a Russian investigator in custody and harassed, accusations that added to strains in US-Russian relations.

"Mr president (Donald Trump), we cannot keep America great unless we aggressively protect and defend American citizens wherever they are in the world," Mr Whelan told reporters at a hearing in Moscow on Thursday.

Paul Whelan, a former US Marine, who was arrested in Moscow (Pavel Golovkin/AP)
Paul Whelan, a former US Marine, who was arrested in Moscow (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

"I am asking the leaders and governments in Ottawa, Dublin, London and Washington for their help and public statements of support," he said, standing inside a glass cage.

Mr Whelan's lawyer has said his client was framed and that he was given a flash drive by an acquaintance that he thought contained holiday photos, but that actually held classified information.

Mr Whelan was in court on Thursday to appeal against the extension of his custody until August 29. The court ruled against him.

Reuters

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