Comment by the Press and Information Department on Paul Whelan’s sentence
On June 15, the Moscow City Court pronounced its verdict on the case of Paul Whelan, a citizen of the US, Britain, Ireland and Canada. He was sentenced to 16 years in a Category A prison.
Mr Whelan was caught in the act of carrying out an intelligence operation in Moscow on December 29, 2018.
We consider absurd and unfounded accusations by the Western media about the procrastination of the trial that was started on March 30. Mr Whelan himself delayed becoming familiar with the materials of his case. He read them without much haste from last September to last March. Despite the complicated sanitary-epidemiological conditions caused by the coronavirus infection, the judicial proceedings were carried out on schedule, in strict conformity with Russian law and observance of all procedural standards.
Diplomats from the missions of all four countries of which Mr Whelan is a citizen, regularly contacted him. Diplomats from the British, Irish, Canadian and US embassies fully enjoyed their rights to consular visits. He was given an opportunity to talk by telephone with his family.
Mr Whelan was given highly qualified medical aid during his stay in the pretrial detention centre. On May 28, he did receive simple surgery due to the deterioration of an existing condition. He had previously refused this surgery.
As for the assertions that his sentence is unfair and too strict, it is necessary to emphasise that punishment for similar crimes in the US and other Western countries runs into dozens of years, up to life imprisonment without a right to a pardon.