25 Jan 2019 23:35

Canadian charge d'affaires a.i. meets with accused spy Whelan in jail - brother

MOSCOW. Jan 25 (Interfax) - Canadian Charge d'Affaires ad interim to Russia Stephane Jobin has visited accused spy Paul Whelan at the detention facility, Paul Whelan's twin brother David said in an interview with Interfax on Friday.

"He [Paul Whelan] met yesterday with the Canadian Charges d'Affaires, Stephane Jobin, and other Canadian consular staff at Lefortovo prison," David Whelan said.

Paul Whelan's lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov confirmed this information to Interfax.

As of Friday, Whelan has been visited by diplomats from the United States, Canada, and Ireland. A visit by United Kingdom diplomats has not yet been arranged.

"These visits are critical to Paul, as they are the only opportunity to communicate with him about his health and to protect his rights," David Whelan said.

"Mr. Jobin also spoke with family members today to discuss the visit. Canadian embassy staff helped us to send Paul some supplies he requested - including additional food and writing materials - that he could not obtain from within the prison," he said.

"He now has access to money to buy toiletries, thanks to the U.S. State Department's creation of an account that allows the family to send funds to the prison," David Whelan said.

Paul Whelan is also supposed to be provided with "a list of alternative Russian lawyers, should Paul decide he needs a change of counsel," he said.

David Whelan said he was unaware who had chosen Zherebenkov to defend his brother.

Journalists had earlier asked Zherebenkov about this but he did not answer, citing client-attorney privilege.

"Our family is not advocating for or against a change in counsel, but we believe Paul's right to choose should be respected," David Whelan said.

"We are hopeful he will be given the list as it is our understanding under Article 50 of the Criminal Procedure Code that it is Paul's right to select his defense counsel," he said.

Russian Federal Security Service officials detained Paul Whelan in Moscow on December 28.

On December 29, Moscow's Lefortovsky District Court ordered to arrest him until February 28. The Moscow City Court ruled on January 22 to uphold this ruling and denied Whelan bail.

It emerged that Whelan is also a citizen of the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada. Those countries' embassies to Russia have received requests for assistance from him.

Zherebenkov said Whelan did not admit any wrongdoing, considered his prosecution a mistake and was hopeful that the investigation would be able to find the truth.

The investigation is being conducted professionally and fully in compliance with the law, he said.

Whelan was born in Canada and acquired U.S. citizenship after starting to serve in U.S. police, Zherebenkov said. His grandfather was born in Ireland and his parents in the UK, and therefore he also acquired citizenships of these countries, he said.

Paul Whelan's brother David says he went to Moscow to attend a wedding and that Paul is a retired marine. The detainee's family has sought assistance from the U.S. Congress, the U.S. embassy to Russia, and the Department of State, David Whelan said.