Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is being held in Moscow on suspicion of spying, has accused investigators of threatening and harassing him and says the case politically motivated and revenge for U.S. sanctions.
Whelan, whose pretrial detention was extended three months by a Russian district court on May 24, told reporters he was being denied medical treatment and even access to basic hygiene.
“I’m a victim of political kidnap and ransom. There’s obviously no credibility to this situation,” the 49-year-old said from inside a cage in the courtroom.
“I have been threatened. My personal safety has been threatened. There are abuses and harassment that I am constantly subjected to,” he added.
Whelan, who holds U.S., Irish, Canadian, and British citizenship, was arrested on December 28 in Moscow and charged with spying. Whelan, who denies the charges, could face 20 years in prison if found guilty.
He said he was being held in isolation on purpose and denied basic courtesies “to run me down so that I will talk to them.”
“Everything is being kept from me. This is typical prisoner of war, chapter one isolation technique,” Whelan said.
Whelan was working as a global security director for a U.S. auto-parts manufacturer at the time of his arrest.
The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has alleged Whelan was caught in possession of a flash drive that contained classified information.
Whelan has told his lawyers that the drive was given to him by a Russian friend and that he believed it contained photos of the friend's hometown.
Russian officials, however, have not released details of the allegations against him.
Whalen’s family has said he is innocent and that he was in Moscow to attend a wedding.
Reuters quoted his brother, David Whelan, as saying in an e-mail on May 24 that his sibling had been falsely accused, wrongfully detained, and will "continue to be mistreated unless one of the governments of the nations of which he is a citizen intervene on his behalf."
"Paul's defense team has been clear in their communications to us that Paul is being held, and coerced, in order to gain a confession," Reuters quoted him as saying.