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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

BRUSSELS -- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has accused China and Russia of spreading disinformation regarding the organization’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have several examples of statements coming from Moscow and Beijing, which are not correct, which try to undermine the cohesion of NATO allies, and also portrays NATO in the absolutely wrong way,” Stoltenberg told a video roundtable with RFE/RL and other media on April 27.

Stoltenberg also said that both countries “try to portray NATO allies as if we are unable to, for instance, protect our elderly people or that we are not able to work together. We are working together. That's exactly what we do.”

NATO’s secretary-general noted that the military alliance’s defense ministers recently decided to “speed up and step up the work we do because they see the value of NATO working together.”

He also cited cooperation among NATO allies such as providing airlifts, medical support, and transporting patients.

Last week, EU monitors identified a “trilateral convergence of disinformation narratives” being promoted by China, Iran, and Russia on the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the common themes were that the coronavirus is a biological weapon created in the United States to bring down opponents and that China, Iran, and Russia “are doing much better than the West” in fighting the epidemic.

Paul Whelan attending a court hearing in September 2019.

The prosecution has concluded the presentation of its case in the Moscow trial of U.S. citizen Paul Whelan on espionage charges that he denies.

Whelan’s lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, told Russian state media on April 27 that “the evidence for the prosecution is unconvincing.”

He added that Russian security services had been paying attention to Whelan for “several years prior to his detention” and that the case bore “signs of a provocation.”

Whelan, who also holds British, Canadian, and Irish citizenship, was arrested in Moscow in December 2018. Prosecutors claim that a flash disc in his possession contained classified information. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Whelan, 50, denies the allegations against him, calling them political in nature, and has alleged being mistreated by guards. The former U.S. marine has said he traveled to Moscow to attend a wedding.

The trial in the Moscow City Court is being held behind closed doors because the evidence includes classified materials and because of measures taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The trial is scheduled to resume on May 13 with defense questioning of witnesses.

Based on reporting by Interfax, TASS, and The Washington Post

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