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Russian Prosecutors To Ask For Sentencing In Whelan Trial

Paul Whelan stands inside a defendants' cage during a court hearing in Moscow on October 24, 2019.

Russian prosecutors are expected to issue their sentencing recommendation on May 25 in the case of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is on trial in Moscow for what the United States says are baseless spying charges.

Whelan's lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, said on May 20 that all evidence in the trial had been presented and the defense and prosecutors would make final statements in the courtroom on May 25.

Prosecutors in the case will then request to the court the sentence they are seeking for the defendant.

In the court proceedings on May 20, the defense presented two witnesses who said there was no indication Whelan engaged in espionage.

The witnesses said they "have known Paul for quite a long time and haven't noticed anything weird about him," Zherebenkov said.

The 50-year-old 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 vehemently denies the allegations against him, calling them political in nature, and has accused guards of mistreatment.

The former U.S. Marine has said he traveled to Moscow to attend a wedding.

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

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax