- Paul Whelan accused of spying by Russia.
- He holds at least 4 known citizenships (US, Canada, UK, Ireland).
- At this time the Russian prosecutor requesting 18 years prison term.
A Prosecutor investigating the case of a former US Navy officer accused of spying in Russia has requested 18 years in a maximum-security prison for the defendant, Paul Whelan. The trial wrapped up on May 25, 2020. It is expected that the verdict of the marine, who was detained in Moscow 17 months ago, will be announced by the court in June after final submissions.
Paul Whelan in his final speech declared his innocence and continues to claim he came to Moscow for a friend’s wedding. The United States has watched Whelan’s trial with great interest and scrutiny. The American Ambassador in Moscow has repeatedly visited the court, but he was never allowed to enter the courtroom directly because of the secrecy of the case.
Russian authorities detained the 50-year-old marine, a citizen of the United States, Canada, Ireland and Great Britain at the end of 2018 on suspicion of espionage. If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
From the data announced in court, it is known that Whelan regularly traveled to Russia since 2007. According to the limited details of the case released, Whelan sought contact with active duty Russian military members and FSB members. The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation is the principal security agency of Russia and the main successor agency to the USSR’s KGB.
The operation to apprehend Whelan took place in his room at the Metropol hotel. On that day, Whelan met with a Russian citizen, whom he first met awhile back. Whelan repeatedly tried to recruit a friend and use him as an agent to obtain information about the staff of various departments and services. This time, he received an electronic carrier with a list of all employees of one of the classified agencies directly in the room. Five minutes after the transfer, FSB officers burst into the room and detained the suspected spy. During the inspection, a flash card with secret information was found in his possession.
Whelan’s family continues to claim he is innocent and not a spy. There is a Facebook page dedicated to Free Whelan that was created by his brother David. At the same time, why would anyone share with their family that they are involved in black market information sales?
Spies usually do not spend their full sentences in foreign prisons. Usually, there is a spy swap. Austria has been a neutral ground for such purposes. So, who was Whelan actually working for? It is unlikely he was working for US interests. He holds at least four citizenships. It is plausible to believe that Whelan was a private contractor trying to buy and sell information and was contracted out by a private firm.
The US government does not conduct business in such a manner. The methods used, if true, would not be the actions of an intelligence agent. So, he might not be swapped in this case, since it would not be in the best interest of the US to give up someone valuable being held in the US in exchange for an amateur black market contractor.