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Ex-Marine Whelan says Russian case ‘revenge’ for US sanctions as Moscow court extends detention

Then-Staff Sgt. Paul N. Whelan, adjutant, Marine Air Control Group 38 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), pictured before the Kremlin in 2007. (Cpl. James B. Hoke/U.S. Marine Corps)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A Moscow court has extended the pretrial detention of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who called the case politically motivated and revenge for U.S. sanctions.

Whelan, who holds U.S., Irish, Canadian, and British citizenship, was arrested on December 28, 2018, in Moscow and charged with spying. Whelan, who denies the charges, could face 20 years in prison if found guilty.

The Lefortovo district court on May 24 rejected a motion filed by Whelan’s lawyer to transfer him to house arrest and prolonged his pretrial arrest until August 29.

During the hearing, Whelan said that the investigator in the case, Captain Aleksei Khizhnyak, was subjecting him to threats and humiliation.

“I call for FSB [Federal Security Service] investigator captain Aleksei Khizhnyak to be called off [the case]. He is insulting my dignity and threatening my life,” Whelan was quoted as telling the Moscow court.

Whalen’s family has said he is innocent and that he was in Moscow to attend a wedding.

Russian officials have not released details of the allegations against him.

Whelan was working as a global security director for a U.S. auto-parts manufacturer at the time of his arrest.