American national Paul Whelan sentenced to 16 years in Russia for espionage
A Moscow court has sentenced American national Paul Whelan to 16 years in a maximum security prison for espionage. Prosecutors requested an 18-year sentence. Whelan maintains his innocence and says his case was politicized.
Whelan’s defense attorney has speculated that his client might be swapped for either arms dealer Viktor “Lord of War” Bout or pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who are now imprisoned in the United States.
Russian police arrested Paul Whelan in December 2018, claiming to have apprehended him in possession of classified intelligence. According to unverified reports, he was caught with a flash drive containing a secret list of Russian intelligence officers. Whelan’s defense attorney says his client didn’t know what was on the flash drive and says he accepted the device believing that it contained tourism reference information.