A former U.S. Marine held in Russia on suspicion of spying said on Friday that prison authorities in Moscow had injured him, as a court ruled to extend his detention by two months.
Paul Whelan, who holds U.S., British, Canadian and Irish passports, was detained in a Moscow hotel room on Dec. 28 and accused of espionage, something he denies.
A Russian acquaintance gave him a flash drive which his lawyer said Whelan thought contained holiday photos, but which actually held classified information. Agents from Russia‘s Federal Security Service arrested him soon afterward.
Whelan believes he was set up in a politically-motivated sting.
He told reporters on Friday that he’d received an injury while in jail, something his lawyer told Russian news agencies happened while he was being moved from one cell to another.
“I’m standing here in great pain,” said Whelan. “It’s inhumane.”
His lawyer said Whelan was suffering from a long-standing groin hernia, something his client said prison authorities had aggravated by dragging him. Whelan was willing to be operated on in Russia, said Vladimir Zherebenkov, the lawyer.
The presiding judge ordered an ambulance to be called. A Russian medic then examined Whelan before concluding there were no grounds for him to be hospitalized.
The same court on Friday extended his pre-trial detention until the end of October. Russian investigators were cited by Russian news agencies as saying they planned to wrap up their investigation into Whelan in two weeks and present definitive accusations.
Whelan said the court hearings were a waste of time.
“It’s simply a dog and pony show for the media. We are not doing anything at all. We are just sitting around and walking back and forth.”
He reiterated that he was innocent and the victim of “a political kidnapping,” and said he was subject to an isolation regime designed to force him to make a false confession.
If found guilty, Whelan faces up to 20 years in jail.