Paul Whelan, U.S. citizen jailed in Russia, appeals arrest, confinement with Moscow court: Reports
Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine jailed in Russia, has filed a fresh appeal seeking his release from a Moscow prison pending trial for espionage, his attorney told state-owned media Tuesday.
Vladimir Zherebenkov, a Russian lawyer for Mr. Whelan, asked an appeals panel for the Moscow City Court to reconsider an earlier ruling keeping the accused spy in custody, government-funded outlets reported.
Mr. Zherebenkov asked the court to either release his client on bail or place him under house arrest pending further proceedings, the TASS agency reported.
“He could easily rent an apartment and be under house arrest or bail,” Mr. Zherebenkov said, Ria Novosti reported.
Mr. Whelan was arrested in Moscow in late December and charged with espionage under Article 276 of the Russian Penal Code. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Russian authorities assert that Mr. Whelan was caught carrying a flash drive containing classified information. His lawyer previously said that he had been given the drive moments earlier and was unaware of its contents.
Mr. Zherebenkov mounted an appeal last month with the Lefortovsky District Court in Moscow challenging Mr. Whelan’s “excessive and unwarranted” detention.
His newest appeal was filed with a presidium within the Moscow City Court, a higher court that oversees decisions handed down by districts including Lefortovsky.
“In our appeal, we ask to cancel the decision by the Lefortovsky court on arresting Whelan and also to reverse the ruling of the Moscow City Court, which upheld his arrest,” Mr. Zherebenkov said, according to TASS.
A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department told The Washington Times last week that the department urges Russia “to follow international law and provide for swift, fair, and transparent judicial processes for detained U.S. citizens.”
Mr. Whelan was arrested in Moscow months after a Russian woman, Maria Butina, was arrested in D.C. and charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent.
Russian officials, including Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, have denied Mr. Whelan was captured in retaliation for Butina’s arrest.