NEW YORK, May 28. /TASS/. The relatives of Paul Whelan, who is detained in Russia on espionage charges, have expressed gratitude to the presidential Human Rights Council which will look into how he is treated at the pre-trial detention center of Moscow’s Lefortovo prison.
"We are grateful that President Putin's Human Rights Council will be looking into Paul's treatment at Lefortovo," Paul Whelan’s brother David said in a letter emailed to TASS on Tuesday.
"We appreciate the recent visit by Canadian consular officials [5/23/2019] and an upcoming visit the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has approved for Irish consular staff to see Paul. We hope that the governments of the nations of which Paul is a citizen will take action to bring him home to his family," he wrote.
"Paul has complained of psychological pressure before through his meetings with consular officials," he said. His investigator "restricts Paul's access to letters from home, to phone calls, and from having legal documents sent to the US Embassy and his home," he explained.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said Paul Whelan was detained in Moscow on December 28, 2018, "while he was on a spy mission." The FSB Investigative Department opened a criminal case under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code (espionage), which carries a punishment of 10 to 20 years in prison. Whelan holds citizenship of the US, UK, Ireland and Canada.
Whelan, 48, is corporate security director for US automotive parts supplier BorgWarner. According to The Washington Post, he enlisted in the US Marines in 1994 and "rose through the ranks to become a staff sergeant, serving two tours in Iraq, in 2004 and 2006." However, Whelan "was discharged for bad conduct in 2008 after being convicted of several charges related to larceny."