In Russia, a 16-year prison sentence for an American accused of spying

En Russie, 16 ans de prison pour un Américain accusé d’espionnage

Moscow | justice Russian was sentenced Monday to 16 years in prison the British-American Paul Whelan for espionage, a conviction of “political” according to the individual, and that could open the way to an exchange of prisoners between Moscow and Washington.

The judge of a court of Moscow, where stood the trial indicated that Paul Whelan would continue his sentence in a “camp of strict regime,” according to an AFP journalist present.

The old navy 50 years of age, who was charged with inmate in a box of glass at the audience, waving a sheet of paper on which was written “sham trial”, declared once more his innocence. After the announcement of the verdict, he announced his intention to appeal and asked the u.s. president Donald Trump to intervene in his favour.

“This is a political trial, a trial is shameful. We have proved my innocence”, he said before his sentencing.

“I need the american president, and the prime minister of Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom to act decisively”, has launched Mr. Whelan, who also owns the nationalities irish and canadian.

The United States are said to be “outraged” by the verdict and have called for an “immediate release” of Paul Whelan, the head of american diplomacy Mike Pompeo exposing “a secret trial, with evidence kept secret, and without proper rights for the defence.” The accused was held in closed session.

The twin brother of the accused, David Whelan, has denounced “an injustice”, in a press release.

For the prosecution, Mr. Whelan is an officer of the american intelligence well-trained.

He was defending, accusing the Russians claim to have “arrested a James Bond on a mission”, when in reality they kidnapped a Mr. Bean on holiday”, in reference to the famous spy fiction and the character clumsy played by the British Rowan Atkinson.

Mr. Whelan had been arrested in December 2018 in full “espionage act”, according to the Russian security services (FSB).

The accused claims to have been trapped by one of his acquaintances, who gave her a USB stick containing what he thought to be photographs taken during a stay last in Russia in his company.

Possible exchange

The public prosecutor of the Russian federation had required the end of may against Paul Whelan 18 years in prison, a little less than the maximum sentence of 20 years provided for these charges.

This case is one of many sources of tension between Moscow and Washington. It adds to the dispute on the conflict in ukraine, war in Syria and the maintenance of the parity of strategy between the two great powers.

The lawyer of the accused, Vladimir Jerebenkov, said after the verdict that his client could be exchanged for two Russian prisoners in the United States, the famous ex-arms dealer Viktor Bout and pilot Konstantin Iarochenko, detained for drug trafficking.

According to the lawyer, an exchange had been under discussion since December and could be decided if the sentence of Paul Whelan was confirmed in appeal by 2 and a half months.

The vice-president of the foreign Affairs committee of the lower house of the Russian parliament, Alexei Tchepa, has also raised the possibility Monday.

“Such an exchange can take place”, he said to the public agency Ria Novosti, but it should be “redeem (Whelan) against the two, both End and Iarochenko”.

“I really hope that this exchange will take place”, said the wife of the Russian driver, Viktoria Iarochenko, to the news agency Interfax.

Director of the security of a u.s.-based manufacturer of spare parts in the automotive sector, Paul Whelan says he was in Russia for a wedding at the time of his arrest.

He and his family have argued that he was not properly treated for a hernia in prison. It has been operated since.

Mr. Whelan also ensures to have suffered ill-treatment by prison guards, allegations rejected by Russia.

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