A Russian court docket on Tuesday prolonged till late March the pre-trial detention of a US man already held in jail for a yr regardless of Western requests for his launch.
Paul Whelan, who additionally has Irish, Canadian and British citizenship, was arrested on December 28 final yr for allegedly receiving state secrets and techniques.
On Christmas eve the Moscow City Court prolonged his detention by one other three months, to March 29, a court docket spokesman advised AFP.
He dangers as much as 20 years in jail if convicted.
Whelan, 49, has denounced the case in opposition to him and mentioned he’s being held “hostage” for a potential prisoner trade.
On Monday, US cost d’affaires Bart Gorman and diplomats from Canada, Ireland, and Britain visited Whelan in Moscow’s high-security Lefortovo jail, bringing him meals and Christmas greetings from household and supporters.
“It’s two days before Christmas. A holiday Paul Whelan will spend alone in Lefortovo,” the US embassy quoted Gorman as saying.
“In the past 12 months, Paul has not heard his parents’ voices. Bring Paul some Christmas cheer and let him call home.”
Whelan, a former US marine, maintains he has been framed and that he took a USB drive from an acquaintance pondering it contained vacation images.
His lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov has mentioned the acquaintance that handed over the drive is the one witness in opposition to Whelan whereas the remainder of his longtime acquaintances in Russia gave witness statements in his defence.
During a earlier court docket listening to in October, Whelan insisted that he was not a spy.
“Russia thought they caught James Bond on a spy mission, in reality they abducted Mr Bean on holiday,” he has mentioned.
Whelan and his supporters declare that the American has been mistreated in jail.
Moscow has rubbished the claims, saying international diplomats have common entry to Whelan and calling the complaints a “provocative line of defence”.
“Whelan’s complaints concerning the conditions of detention and actions of investigators have never once been confirmed,” the Russian international ministry has mentioned.