Russia Sentences American Paul Whelan to 16 Years for Spying
- Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen who was arrested in Moscow in 2018 on charges of espionage
- He has been found guilty in a closed trial and sentenced to 16 years in prison in a case that has strained relations between the two countries.
The verdict was read in a Moscow court on Monday as Whelan stood in the defendant's cage holding a sign that read "Sham trial!
There has been mystery surrounding the case since the December 2018 arrest of Whelan in his Moscow hotel room. The case of the 50-year-old former U.S. Marine who holds passports from the U.S, Canada, the U.K., and Ireland, has strained U.S.-Russia relations.
Days after his arrest, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement that he had been detained while on a "spy mission." Later, officials said he was caught with a flash drive containing classified information.
Whelan has maintained his innocence since his arrest
Whelan pleaded not guilty and has denied the charges of espionage, maintaining that he was set up and that he was given a flash drive by an acquaintance that he thought contained family photos.
The prosecution said that Whelan held the rank of "at least colonel" with the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.