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Moscow court prolongs arrest of US national Whelan until March 29, 2020

The prosecution’s appeal was considered during a closed court session

MOSCOW, December 24. /TASS/. The Moscow City Court has ruled to prolong the arrest of US national Paul Whelan, charged with espionage, until March 29, 2020, TASS reports from court.

"To satisfy the appeal of the prosecution to prolong Whelan’s measure of restraint by way of remand in custody until March 29, 2020," judge Andrei Ranovsky stated.

The judge noted that he had found no grounds for placing Whelan under house arrest at the Metropol Hotel, requested by his defense. He added that the US national had been placed into custody to avoid evasion of justice. The prosecution’s appeal was considered during a closed court session due to confidential materials being involved in the case.

Whelan’s attorney Vladimir Zherebenkov informed TASS that he aims to appeal the court verdict. "The defense will appeal the verdict, as Whelan has been charged in the final version, the collection of evidence is complete, which means that a softer measure of restraint can be used," he stated.

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.