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US slams Russia’s ‘shameful treatment’ of Marine vet Paul Whelan on Thanksgiving Eve

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.

The top U.S. envoy in Moscow has expressed concerns about the “deteriorating health” of Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen charged in Russia with espionage and detained since his arrest nearly a year ago.

On November 27, the U.S. Embassy also decried Moscow’s “shameful treatment” in denying the former marine the “minor comfort” of a Thanksgiving dinner that charge d’affaires Julie Fisher attempted to deliver to the Lefortovo detention center in Moscow.

The 49-year-old Whelan, who also holds Canadian, Irish, and British citizenship, was arrested in a hotel room in the Russian capital in December 2018 and charged with espionage.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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Whelan denied the allegations and his family said he was in Moscow at the time for a wedding.

Whelan told reporters from a cage at a Moscow court hearing on August 23 that he had been abused by prison guards during his incarceration as he awaits trial.

On November 19, Moscow City Court upheld an earlier ruling to prolong Whelan’s pretrial detention until December 29.

“On this Thanksgiving Eve, I am most concerned about #PaulWhelan’s deteriorating health and continued isolation from family. It is time that we are allowed to bring in an outside doctor, as suggested by a high-level Russian official. Enough is enough,” Fisher said in a Twitter statement.

Earlier, the embassy said that “Russian authorities denied #PaulWhelan the minor comfort of a Thanksgiving dinner today. As American families around the world gather, Paul marks 11 months in prison and can’t even call his parents. This is shameful treatment.”

November 28 is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, a day when American families traditionally gather for turkey dinners.