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US Ambassador slams Russia for ‘mockery of justice’ in Marine veteran Whelan trial

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 U.S. ambassador to Russia has accused a Moscow court of making a “mockery of justice” after he was denied admission to a closed-door hearing in the trial of Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen accused by Russia of espionage.

“It’s a fundamental human right that anyone accused of a crime is presumed innocent and is tried in a fair, impartial, and public hearing,” Ambassador John Sullivan said in a letter posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on April 20.

“The fact that it is a closed hearing, that it is a secret trial – Paul hasn’t seen the evidence against him – it makes a mockery of justice,” Sullivan added.

The ambassador also said that it was “intolerable” and “unacceptable” that the Russian government had refused to allow Whelan medical treatment for “serious medical issues.”

The comments came before one of Whelan’s defense lawyers said that the Moscow City Court had denied a request for his client to be treated by a U.S. doctor.

“It was determined that Russian doctors have provided him with all necessary qualified aid,” attorney Vladimir Zherebenkov told Interfax.

Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who also holds Canadian, Irish, and British citizenship, was charged with spying after security agents arrested him in a December 2018 sting operation, claiming that a flash drive they seized contained state secrets.

Whelan denies the charges and has alleged that he has been ill-treated by guards and that his case is political in nature.