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Date Set For Trial Of U.S. Citizen Charged With 'Espionage' In Russia

Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan has been held in Moscow since December 2018. (file photo)

The trial of a former U.S. Marine who is being held in a Moscow prison on espionage charges will start on March 23, his lawyers say.

Olga Karlova and Vladimir Zherebenkov said on March 19 that Paul Whelan's trial will be held behind closed doors as the case materials are classified.

The 50-year-old Whelan, who holds U.S., British, Canadian, and Irish passports, was arrested in a hotel room in Moscow in December 2018 and accused of receiving classified information.

He was charged with espionage, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Whelan denies the charges and says he was framed.

Whelan's family said that, at the time of his arrest, he was in Moscow for a wedding.

Whelan's brother, David, told the nterfax news agency on March 19 that officials from the U.S., British, Canadian, and Irish embassies had been barred from visiting the detainee in Moscow's Lefortovo detention center due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax