The lawyer for Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen charged in Russia with espionage, says his client needs to be released from detention for surgery.
Lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov told Interfax news agency on August 26 that he had filed request papers with the Lefortovo detention center in Moscow, asking the warden to allow his client to get the surgery he needs, adding that, in accordance with Russian regulations, the request must be answered within 14 days.
Zherebenkov has said that the 49-year-old Whelan, who also holds Canadian, Irish, and British citizenship, was awaiting long-planned surgery for an inguinal hernia.
Whelan, who has denied all charges, told reporters during an August 23 Moscow court hearing that he had been abused by prison guards during his incarceration.
During the hearing, an ambulance was called to assist Whelan, who said he felt unwell. The court decided later that his pretrial detention should be extended until October 29.
Judge Yelena Kaneva said she ordered the extension to give investigators time to complete their inquiry and decide whether to refer the case to the court.
The U.S. Embassy has expressed concern over Whelan’s state of health, calling on Russia to release him to receive proper medical assistance.
The Russian Foreign Ministry countered with a response on Twitter saying that many Russians held in the United States also feel unwell and therefore must be allowed to go home, too.
Whelan was arrested in a hotel room in Moscow in December and accused of receiving classified information.
He was charged with espionage, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. His family said he was in Moscow at the time for a wedding.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow on July 1 said its request for an independent medical examination of Whelan had been denied, noting his condition had deteriorated.
In April, the U.S. Embassy told Russia to “stop playing games” and provide proof of Whelan’s alleged espionage.