20 Aug 2019 19:54

Investigators request extension of suspected spy Whelan's arrest

MOSCOW. Aug 20 (Interfax) - The Lefortovsky District Court of Moscow will consider the extension of the arrest of U.S. citizen Paul Whelan, who is charged with espionage in Russia, later this week.

"The investigator notified me that the hearing on the extension of the measure of restraint in the form of custodial term has been scheduled for August 23," Whelan's lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov told Interfax on Tuesday.

Court spokesperson Ksenia Pervovlasenko, in turn, confirmed to Interfax that the investigator's motion has already been received by the court.

The press service said that it is yet unable to clarify for what period the investigators requested the extension of Whelan's arrest. However, it is expected that the new custodial term is another three months.

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 a state secret. 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 came 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.