23 Aug 2019 15:31

Whelan's arrest extended until end of October

MOSCOW. Aug 23 (Interfax) - The Moscow Lefortovsky District Court has extended suspected U.S. spy Paul Whelan's arrest by two months.

"The investigator's request is upheld, and the arrest of defendant Whelan is extended until October 29," Judge Yelena Kaneva said.

The investigators will use these two months to wrap up the preliminary inquiry and, possibly, to refer the case to court, which will consider its merits.

The court met behind closed doors and only the operative part was presented to the public. Whelan has been insisting on an open hearing from the start, saying it was the only way to guarantee a fair trial. Whelan's lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov told Interfax after the hearing that he would appeal the Moscow City Court's ruling.

U.S. citizen Whelan was apprehended in Moscow on December 28, 2018, and charged with spying. He is facing from ten to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

According to his lawyer, Whelan was indicted on counts of spying for U.S. security services. The USB flash drive seized from him contained information constituting state secrets. Whelan believed it contained personal information about his previous visits to Russia and hadn't had chance to check, the lawyer said.

It emerged later that he was citizen of three more countries - UK, Ireland, and Canada. Their embassies received his request for help.

According to the lawyer, Whelan pleaded not guilty and called his prosecution a mistake.

Whelan's brother David said he had come to Moscow for a wedding. He additionally said Whelan was a discharged marine. The Whelan family asked the U.S. Congress, the U.S. embassy in Russia, and the Department of State for assistance, David Whelan said.