US is left 'outraged' after ex-marine Paul Whelan is jailed for 16 years by a Russian court for stealing state secrets - as he holds up a sign saying 'sham trial' and 'Paul's life matters'

The United States has called for the immediate release of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan from Russia, saying on Monday it was outraged by his conviction on spying charges and calling Moscow's treatment of him appalling.  
Moscow's city court found Whelan guilty of spying for the United States on Monday and sentenced him to 16 years in jail after a closed trial which U.S. diplomats said was unfair and opaque.
'The United States is outraged by the decision of a Russian court today to convict U.S. citizen Paul Whelan after a secret trial, with secret evidence, and without appropriate allowances for defense witnesses,' U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in statement.  
Whelan, who holds U.S., British, Canadian and Irish passports, has been in custody since he was detained by agents from Russia´s Federal Security Service in a Moscow hotel room on December 28, 2018.
Pictured: ex-U.S. marine Paul Whelan, who has been found guilty of spying on Russia for the United States, holds a sign as he stands inside a defendants' cage during his verdict hearing in Moscow, Russia June 15, 2020
Pictured: ex-U.S. marine Paul Whelan, who has been found guilty of spying on Russia for the United States, holds a sign as he stands inside a defendants' cage during his verdict hearing in Moscow, Russia June 15, 2020
Ex-marine Paul Whelan sentenced to 16 years for espionage
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The 50-year-old, who pleaded not guilty, said he was set up in a sting and had thought a flash drive, given to him by a Russian acquaintance, contained holiday photos. The court process is 'slimy, greasy Russian politics nothing more, nothing less,' he said, according to his lawyer.
Whelan will serve his sentence in a maximum security prison, the court said. His trial was closed because authorities said it involved the discussion of state secrets. 
Pictures of the sentencing showed Whelan standing in a glass box, holding a sign that read 'Sham Trial! Meatball Surgery! No Human Rights! Paul's Life Matters! Decisive Action from POTUS and PMs needed! Happy Birthday Flora!' Flora is reportedly Whelan's dog.   
After the sentence was announced, Mr. Whelan said 'This is all a political theater,' and added that he did not understand the proceedings as they were conducted entirely in Russia.
Moscow says he was caught red-handed with a computer flash drive containing classified information, but throughout the trial he maintained his innocence, comparing himself to the hapless comedy character Mr Bean.
'Russia thought they caught James Bond on a spy mission, in reality they abducted Mr Bean on holiday,' he said.

Pictured: Whelan stands in a glass box at the trial holding a sign that reads 'Sham Trial! Meatball Surgery! No Human Rights! Paul's Life Matters! Decisive Action from POTUS and PMs needed! Happy Birthday Flora!' Flora is reportedly Whelan's dog.
Pictured: Whelan stands in a glass box at the trial holding a sign that reads 'Sham Trial! Meatball Surgery! No Human Rights! Paul's Life Matters! Decisive Action from POTUS and PMs needed! Happy Birthday Flora!' Flora is reportedly Whelan's dog.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan told reporters after the verdict that no evidence had been produced to prove Whelan's guilt and demanded he be released immediately. 'His conviction is a mockery of justice,' said Sullivan.
He said the ruling would not have 'a good influence' on already poor ties between Moscow and Washington, but that dialogue would continue.
'I am disappointed, outraged by what I just heard,' he told reporters. '(Whelan has) been sentenced to 16 years in prison with no evidence that's been produced.
'I can't say I'm surprised. This is the direction this case has been heading from the beginning,' he added.
The embassy also tweeted after the trial, quoting Sullivan saying: 'Fair and transparent? No. Evidence produced? No. The world is watching.'
US Ambassador slams Russia after they convict Paul Whelan
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U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan is interviewed by members of the media outside the verdict hearing of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who was detained and accused of espionage, in Moscow, Russia June 15, 2020
U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan is interviewed by members of the media outside the verdict hearing of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who was detained and accused of espionage, in Moscow, Russia June 15, 2020
'We had hoped that the court might show some independence but, in the end, Russian judges are political, not legal, entities,' said David Whelan, Paul Whelan's twin brother, in a statement following the verdict. 
'We understand that Paul's lawyers may appeal this decision within the next two weeks. We hope that, in their continued search for justice for Paul, that the appeal is successful. But Russians do not expect justice from their legal system, and neither do we.'  
Speaking to WXYZ Detroit before the trial, David said he was also worrying about his Brother's health. 
Two Russian security officers were pictured in balaclavas guarding Paul Whelan as he attended his sentencing in Moscow on June 15, 2020
Two Russian security officers were pictured in balaclavas guarding Paul Whelan as he attended his sentencing in Moscow on June 15, 2020
Whelan continued to hold up the sign calling the trial a sham, pressing it to the glass so that the security officers could read it
Whelan continued to hold up the sign calling the trial a sham, pressing it to the glass so that the security officers could read it
In May, Whelan had emergency hernia surgery, and could also have to contend with the risk of Covid-19 in jail. He added: 'The sad part of that is, that if he gets an 18-year sentence, my parents will be dead by then. Flora, the dog that he has loved, will be dead by then.' 
David said that he hopes that now his brother has been convicted, they can open discussions about his release. Russian officials only discuss prisoner release once the person has been convicted. 
In June 2019, Whelan publicly declared himself the victim of 'an absurd political kidnapping' and appealed to President Trump to help him and to 'keep America great' by taking steps to secure his release.
'Mr. President, we cannot keep America great unless we aggressively protect and defend American citizens wherever they are in the world,' he said. He also called the legal processes he experienced as the 'Moscow goat rodeo'.
Pictured: An image of Paul Whelan, a former US marine who was arrested for alleged spying in Moscow, is displayed behind Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as he speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, DC on June 10, 2020 ahead of the start of the trial
Pictured: An image of Paul Whelan, a former US marine who was arrested for alleged spying in Moscow, is displayed behind Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as he speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, DC on June 10, 2020 ahead of the start of the trial
U.S. diplomats have described the case as a 'significant obstacle' to improving already poor bilateral ties and have repeatedly said there is no evidence against him and asked Russia to release him.
State prosecutors, who accused Whelan of being at least a ranking U.S. military intelligence colonel, had asked the court to sentence Whelan to 18 years in a maximum security prison.
While he was only sentenced to 16 years, he will serve his sentence in a maximum security prison, Moscow's city court said. 
The trial was largely closed to the public, with Vladimir A. Zherebenkov, Whelan's lawyer saying that the Russian prosecution had little evidence to support their case, according to the New York Times.
'Paul knew dozens of people in Russia, not a single one of them said that he tried to recruit them,' Zherebenkov said in a telephone interview with The Times before the sentence was announced. 'We believe this was a provocation.'   
His trial was closed because authorities said it involved the discussion of state secrets. 
Russian prosecutors seek 18 years' jail time for ex-US marine
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Whelan's lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov (pictured last year) told reporters the defense team was 'in shock' over the hefty sentence requested by prosecutors. Prosecuters originally asked for 18 years, and Whelan has now been sentenced to 16
Whelan's lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov (pictured last year) told reporters the defense team was 'in shock' over the hefty sentence requested by prosecutors. Prosecuters originally asked for 18 years, and Whelan has now been sentenced to 16
Whelan has maintained he was visiting Moscow for a friend's wedding when he was arrested in his hotel room by Russia's FSB security service in December 2018.
At the time he was working as a security director for the American auto parts supplier BorgWarner but had previously served in the Marines, which he left on a bad-conduct discharge in 2007.
The case has been shrouded in secrecy with Russia not publicly saying what Whelan has been accused of.
However, details of the case have emerged through Whelan's lawyer and through the Russian media.
According to reports, he is accused of stealing state secrets to pass back to Washington.
Whelan has protested his innocence and his lawyers have said he was framed by a friend of 10 years who works for the FSB.
Whelan (pictured in the Marines) said he was visiting Moscow for a friend's wedding when he was arrested in his hotel room by Russia's FSB security service in December 2018
Whelan (pictured in the Marines) said he was visiting Moscow for a friend's wedding when he was arrested in his hotel room by Russia's FSB security service in December 2018
The friend allegedly visited him in his hotel room and gave him a memory card that he thought contained photos of a recent vacation together.
The drive actually contained classified materials and moments later the FSB raided the room and arrested Whelan, his lawyers have said.
Whelan believes the friend set him up because he owed the ex-marine over $1,000 for two iPhones, Zherebenkov said.
The friend has not been named by Whelan's lawyers but his family have identified the individual as a Russian agent called Ilya Yatsenko.
Russian newspaper Kommersant last month reported that Yatsenko works as a major in the powerful Department 'K' of the FSB and that the agent appeared in court twice during the trial.
Whelan, who traveled to Russia on vacation for many years, has urged the US government to step in with a prisoner swap.
Speculation has mounted that the US could exchange the former marine, who holds Irish, British and Canadian citizenship, for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko who is currently being held in the US on drug smuggling charges.
The US has made several calls for Moscow to release Whelan and blasted the nation for what it has described as Cold War-style tactics.
US is left 'outraged' after ex-marine Paul Whelan is jailed for 16 years by a Russian court for stealing state secrets - as he holds up a sign saying 'sham trial' and 'Paul's life matters' US is left 'outraged' after ex-marine Paul Whelan is jailed for 16 years by a Russian court for stealing state secrets - as he holds up a sign saying 'sham trial' and 'Paul's life matters' Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 23:07 Rating: 5

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