Former US Marine Paul Whelan claims Russian guards have ‘injured’ him in jail as he appears behind bars at Moscow court ahead of spying trial
- Whelan, 48, was arrested in December 2018 on suspicion of spying in Moscow
- Accused of handling state secrets on USB stick he ‘thought were holiday photos’
- Told court today he was ‘in pain’ from injuries from guards sustained in prison
- At an earlier hearing he called on US President Donald Trump to intervene
- Possibility Whelan could be part of a prisoner swap between US and Russia
A former US marine suspected of espionage told reporters Friday that his guards have injured him during his detention in a Moscow prison.
‘I was injured in the prison… the prison doesn’t want to tell you,’ Paul Whelan told the court, which is to decide on whether to extend his provisional detention.
Whelan arrived in the court handcuffed and escorted by two security guards wearing black masks and plain clothes.
‘You can see the treatment,’ he said as he entered the court on Friday.
‘I am standing here in great pain due to an injury sustained in the prison by the prison guards,’ he said, looking pale.
Former US Marine, Paul Whelan (centre), 48, can be seen being escorted into a Moscow court room today by two men dressed in black balaclavas. He said he’s suffered ‘injury’ in prison
Russia arrested Whelan for receiving state secrets in December 2018. He claims an acquaintance handed a USB stick to him which he said he thought contained holiday photos
He told reporters today ‘you can see the treatment,’ referring to how he was pulled in handcuffs by guards whose faces were covered. He didn’t divulge any further information about the type of injuries the guards had inflicted on him
He did not say what type of injury he suffered.
Whelan was arrested in Moscow in December last year on suspicion of handling Russian state secrets on a USB stick. He said an acquaintance assured him it was a drive of holiday photographs. He maintains that he has been framed.
He was then held at Lefortovo detention facility, a former KGB prison in the Russian capital.
Whelan, pictured here behind bars at the courthouse, is at a hearing today to consider a request to extend the ex-Marine’s pre-charge detention
Whelan’s lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov (pictured left), said of his detention in January: ‘I consider his detention baseless. It’s based on investigators’ supposition that he will hinder the investigation process. We are asking for bail instead’
Whelan’s family have maintained that he was there due to the wedding invitation and, like him, they believe he was framed. Whelan holds multiple passports, including British, Irish and Canadian
Whelan, who also holds Canadian, Irish and British passports risks up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
His family said Whelan had been in Moscow for a friend’s wedding.
During an earlier hearing, he made a direct appeal to US President Donald Trump.
‘Mr President – we cannot keep America great unless we aggressively protect and defend citizens wherever they are in the world,’ he said.
Whelan is among high-profile detainees mooted for a potential prisoner swap with the United States.