Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who was convicted in Russia on espionage charges that he denies, will ask a court to transfer him home to serve the remainder of his sentence there.
"A request on Whelan's transfer to the U.S. is ready. We will file it with the Moscow City Court before the end of the week," Olga Karlova, a lawyer for the 51-year-old was quoted by Russian media as saying on August 16.
"In fact, it depends on the two countries' goodwill if it will be granted. If there is an agreement between Russia and the United States, then a judge will make a ruling based on that. We are filing the request with high hopes for success."
Whelan was arrested in Moscow in December 2018 on espionage charges and sentenced to 16 years in prison in May 2020 following a trial that was condemned by the United States as a "mockery of justice."
Whelan has rejected the charges and has accused his prison guards of mistreatment. The United States has criticized the Russian authorities for their "shameful treatment" of Whelan.
Karlova said that the defense team had been unable to contact Whelan by phone, a violation of Russian law. She said a complaint has been filed with the prosecution over the issue.
Whelan holds U.S., Canadian, British, and Irish passports. He was head of global security at a U.S. auto-parts supplier when he was arrested. He and his relatives insist he visited Russia to attend a wedding.
Whelan is one of several Americans to face trial in Russia in recent years on charges that their families, supporters, and in some cases the U.S. government, have said are trumped up.
Another former U.S. Marine, Trevor Reed, is serving a nine-year prison term in Mordovia as well. He was sentenced in July 2020 on charges of assaulting two Russian police officers.
The U.S. government and Reed deny the allegations and questioned the fairness of his judicial proceedings.