- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine accused in Russia of espionage, was rebuffed Tuesday in his effort to overturn a recent court ruling keeping him imprisoned in Moscow.

The Moscow City Court rejected an appeal filed on behalf of Mr. Whelan, 49, that challenged a lower court’s ruling last month to prolong his pretrial detention until Dec. 29.

“The court rules to maintain the ruling of the Lefortovo Court and to dismiss the appeal of the defense,” a Moscow City Court judge ruled, Russian state-owned media reported.

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Mr. Whelan, a resident of Novi, Michigan, was arrested at a Moscow hotel on Dec. 28, 2018. He has been detained in Russia ever since, meaning Tuesday’s decision all but ensures he spends a full year imprisoned without trial in spite of objections from the U.S. State Department and members of Congress.

Russian investigators allege Mr. Whelan was arrested while possessing a flash drive containing classified information and have accused him of espionage. He has denied spying and has said he was “set up,” and U.S. officials have repeatedly requested that Russia either produce evidence to support keeping him in custody or release him from prison.

Mr. Whelan has used previous court hearings to make statements condemning the case against him, including during the detention hearing that triggered his latest failed appeal.

Russia says it caught James Bond on a spy mission. In reality, they abducted Mr. Bean on holiday,” Mr. Whelan said during last month’s detention hearing.

“If you look at the facts of this, the ones that you know, you will see there’s absolutely no proof of this at all,” Mr. Whelan said during another hearing weeks earlier. “This is a dog and pony show. It’s a kangaroo court. And it just continues. It’s ridiculous.”

Mr. Whelan was unable to speak out against his case when his latest appeal was heard Tuesday, however. He appeared via video link from Lefortovo prison rather than being brought into court, and multiple news outlets reported that journalists were neither able to hear Mr. Whelan speak nor read the contents of a note he displayed.

Mr. Whelan was employed as a security director for a Michigan-based automotive parts company at the time of his arrest. He was born in Ottawa and raised in the U.S., and he holds Canadian, American, British and Irish citizenship.

Envoys from all four countries were on hand when Tuesday’s appeal was considered, Canada’s CBC reported.

Hearings in Mr. Whelan’s case are expected to start in 2020.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution last month urging Russia to provide evidence of Mr. Whelan’s alleged wrongdoing or release him from prison. The State Department has previously made similar requests.

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