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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.”

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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.