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U.S. Embassy Formally Protests Alleged Mistreatment Of Jailed American Accused Of Spying

Paul Whelan attends a hearing of his lawyers' appeal against his arrest term extension at the Moscow City Court in Moscow on June 20.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said it had formally protested what it called the mistreatment of Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen and former U.S. Marine who has been jailed on espionage charges.

The embassy said in a statement June 26 that it had sent an official note of protest to the Russian Foreign Ministry, asking it to investigate allegations that Whelan had been mistreated while in custody.

There was no immediate public response to the protest from the Foreign Ministry.

Whelan, who also holds Canadian, Irish, and British citizenship, was arrested in a hotel room in Moscow in December and accused of receiving classified information.

He was charged with espionage, which carries up to 20 years in prison.

Whelan has denied the charges and publicly complained of poor conditions in prison.

In a brief statement to reporters during a courtroom appearance last week, Whelan appealed directly to U.S. President Donald Trump for help.

“Mr. President, we cannot keep America great unless we aggressively protect and defend American citizens wherever they are in the world,” he said, speaking from inside his glass courtroom cage.

He also called the Russian judicial process “the Moscow goat rodeo."

“My life has been threatened, my rights have been denied,” he said. “I have been isolated in order to force a confession.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he’s raised Whelan’s case directly with Russian counterparts.

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