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June 17, 2019

Ex-Marine and accused spy Paul Whelan says he’s being abused and harassed inside Russian prison

May 25, 2019
Former Marine Paul Whelan claims he’s been subjected to harassment and abuse during his time inside a Russian prison. (Dmitry Serebryakov/AP)

A jailed American Marine accused of Russian espionage will be spending another three months behind bars.

That was a Russian court’s decision on Friday, in which it ordered the extension of Michigan resident Paul Whelan’s detainment.

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Whelan told reporters he been threatened and subjected to prison “abuses and harassment.”

“I want to tell the world that I am a victim of political kidnap and ransom,” said Whelan. “This is retaliation for sanctions. There is absolutely no legitimacy. I have been threatened. There are abuses and harassment that I am constantly subject to.”

Whelan was arrested in a Moscow hotel room in December 2018 and charged with espionage, which carries up to a 20-years prison term in Russia. The court’s Friday decision was the second time Whelan’s arrest has been extended.

Whelan’s lawyer has said his client was handed a flash drive that contained classified information he was unaware of.

U.S. intelligence and State Department sources told CBS News they’re sure Whelan isn’t a spy.

Whelan’s lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov said in February that his client was in possession of the flash drive containing Russian “state secrets.”

“I’ve worked as an investigator for 20 years and if I do have a smoking gun, I will then put my strongest card on the table to crush the opponent,” said Zherebenkov earlier this year. “In this case, I don’t see any smoking gun.”

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