MOSCOW — Paul N. Whelan, a retired United States Marine who has been jailed in Russia for eight months on espionage charges, said on Friday that prison guards had injured him.
The remarks came during a court hearing on whether to extend his detention in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo Prison, which began in late December. The court ordered him held for another two months.
“The prosecutor’s office also knows that I was injured by security guards in the pretrial detention center,” Mr. Whelan was quoted as saying by Interfax, a Russian news agency, adding that he was in “great pain.”
“Even Salem witches had more opportunities to defend their rights,” Mr. Whelan told the court.
The judge in Lefortovo District Court dismissed his request that the prosecutor be changed, but summoned an ambulance for a doctor to examine him.
Mr. Whelan’s lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, said that Mr. Whelan had asked to be transferred to a better cell because the television worked poorly and the radio not at all. The request was granted, but the transfer aggravated a hernia, he told Interfax.
The investigation should be completed soon and a trial will most likely start later in the fall, Mr. Zherebenkov said.
“We hope that Paul’s case goes to trial swiftly so that he can speak to the false charges laid against him,” his family said in a statement before the hearing. “We will continue to seek his freedom and look for a diplomatic solution that will bring him back to his family.”
During a similar court appearance in June, Mr. Whelan, a supporter of President Trump, pleaded for help, saying, “Mr. President, we cannot keep America great unless we aggressively protect and defend American citizens wherever they are in the world.”
The Russian authorities were trying “to force a confession,” he said at that hearing. “My life has been threatened; my rights have been denied.”
Mr. Whelan, 49, who was the director of corporate security for an auto-parts maker, traveled to Russia late last year to attend a friend’s wedding. He was arrested on Dec. 28 in a hotel room in central Moscow after receiving a flash drive that investigators said contained classified information.
He expected the USB stick to contain holiday photos, his lawyers said. In January, Mr. Whelan was charged with spying on behalf of the United States — an accusation that he has denied.
After his arrest, it emerged that in addition to the United States he was also a citizen of Canada, Britain and Ireland. All four countries are monitoring the case.
SOURCE : https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/23/world/europe/moscow-paul-whelan-marine.html