Russian prosecutors seek 18 years for ex-US marine in spy trial | Eurasia Diary -

7 July, Tuesday

Russian prosecutors seek 18 years for ex-US marine in spy trial

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Russian prosecutors on Monday requested a former US Marine charged with spying receive an 18-year sentence, after a closed-door trial denounced by Washington and his family, reports citing AFP.

Paul Whelan, 50, was detained in Moscow in December 2018 for allegedly receiving state secrets, but he insists he was framed when he took a USB drive from an acquaintance thinking it contained holiday photos.

His trial, which caused tensions between Moscow and Washington and sparked speculation of a prisoner swap, concluded with closing arguments on Monday.

Whelan's lawyer told reporters after the session that prosecutors had requested 18 years for his client in a penal colony, just short of the maximum 20-year sentence.

"To be honest, we are in shock," Vladimir Zherebenkov said outside the Moscow City Court, removing his mask to speak to journalists standing at a distance.

Whelan reacted calmly to the prosecutor's "very harsh" demand, the lawyer said. "He is behaving with dignity," he added.

Zherebenkov said that the prosecutor believed Whelan to be an officer -- "at least a colonel" -- at the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Whelan told the court "he did not do any spying and was not collecting any secret information," his lawyer said.

He added that the verdict would be delivered and sentence announced on June 15.

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