NEW YORK, February 20. /TASS/. The brother of US national Paul Whelan, accused in Russia of espionage, is grateful for the fact that Whelan’s attorneys have had eased access to the jailed US citizen, he said in a message sent out on Thursday.
"We are grateful that Foreign Minister's Lavrov's comments about the prison's restrictions on Paul's access to his lawyers have had an impact. Paul's defense counsel have had increased access to Paul since then and that has enabled them to complete their review of the purported evidence more quickly," he wrote. "This has moved up the expected trial from May or June. The next stages involve pre-trial motions and, hopefully, a trial starting in March. The trial remains an obstacle to Paul's freedom and we hope it begins and concludes quickly."
"Paul has been in Lefortovo prison for 420 days as of tomorrow [2/21/2020]. He was visited by the Irish embassy staff on February 5th. We are hoping that requests made by the UK Embassy and the Canadian Embassy to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for visits in the coming weeks will be approved," his brother David Whelan noted.
US citizen Paul Whelan, who also holds British, Canadian and Irish citizenship, was detained by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) on December 28, 2018 in Moscow while on an alleged spy mission. A criminal investigation was launched against him on espionage charges carrying a punishment of up to 20 years behind bars.