28 May 2019 18:35

Jailed spy suspect Whelan being coerced into confession - brother

MOSCOW. May 28 (Interfax) - Paul Whelan, who is charged with espionage, is being held at a pre-trial detention facility in order to be forced into confession, his brother David said.

"He is isolated and doesn't have any information about his case. His imprisonment is continuing with one goal in mind: coercing his confession," David Whelan told Interfax on Tuesday.

Paul rarely sees his lawyers, he said.

Because of the complicated entry process at the Lefortovo jail, Whelan's lawyers are only allowed to meet with him about twice a week, Vladimir Zherebenkov, one of the said lawyers, told Interfax.

"Everyone knows that in order to get into Lefortovo, lawyers have to draw lots for the visitation order two weeks ahead. And we in this instance are no exception; we're involved in this casting of lots, too," Zherebenkov said.

David thanked the Russian presidential council for human rights, whose members intended to visit Paul in jail to make sure his rights there are respected.

Paul gets visits from the consulates of the countries of which he is a citizen, David said. Very soon, he will meet with Irish consular officials, whose visit the Russian Foreign Ministry had already approved, David said.

"We hope that the governments of the nations of which Paul is a citizen will take action to bring him home to his family," David Whelan said.

The Moscow Lefortovsky District Court granted the Federal Security Service's request on May 24 and extended Whelan's arrest until August 29.

Judge Sergei Ryabtsev found no reason to release Whelan from the detention facility and to mitigate the restrictive measure.

Whelan told the court he viewed his case as an act of revenge for the sanctions and reported bad conditions of his custody. He said he had not had a shower for two weeks, had no access to medical services, including dental care, and to the library, and was unable to receive and send correspondence.

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 lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov, Whelan has been indicted on courts of spying for U.S. security services. The USB flash drive seized from Whelan contained information constituting a state secret. In the words of the lawyer, Whelan believed it contained personal information about his previous visits to Russia and had no chance to check.

The Moscow Lefortovsky District Court ordered arrest of U.S. citizen Whelan on December 29.

It appeared later that Whelan was citizen of three more countries. Their embassies received his request for help.

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