American charged with spying in Russia appeals to Trump

Paul Whelan

FILE In this file photo taken on Friday, May 24, 2019, Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, who was arrested in Moscow at the end of last year, waits for a hearing in a court in Moscow, Russia. An American man kept behind bars in Russia on spying charges has appealed to U.S. President Donald Trump for help. Whelan, who also holds British, Irish and Canadian citizenship, appealed to Trump in a Moscow court on Thursday, June 20, 2019 to intervene in his case and “defend” him. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

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MOSCOW (AP) — An American man kept behind bars in Russia on spying charges on Thursday appealed to U.S. President Donald Trump for help.

Paul Whelan was arrested in a hotel room in Moscow at the end of December and charged with espionage, which carries up to 20 years in prison in Russia.

The former U.S. Marine denies the charges, and his lawyer that his client was handed a flash drive that had classified information on it that he didn’t know about.

Whelan, who also holds British, Irish and Canadian citizenship, appealed to Trump in a Moscow court to intervene in his case and “defend” him.

“Mr. President, we cannot keep America great unless we aggressively protect American citizens wherever they are in the world,” Whelan said, reading out his statement. He also said he was a victim of “political kidnapping.”

Whelan previously complained of poor conditions in the Moscow jail he is being kept. He said Thursday that the conditions there have somewhat improved.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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