Lawyer requests regional Russian court to hand jailed American over to US

MOSCOW (TASS): The defense team of US national Paul Whelan, convicted in Russia on espionage charges, has requested the High Court of Russia’s Mordovia region to hand him over to the United States so that he can continue to serve his sentence there, lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov told TASS.

“We have sent another request, this time to the High Court of Mordovia, the region where Whelan is serving his sentence. The regional High Court has the power to consider it independently but it can also forward it to the court whose jurisdiction applies to the penal colony where my client is incarcerated,” he said.

Zherebenkov did not rule out that since court files were classified, the request could be forwarded to a military court. “Mordovia’s High Court has not yet set a date for a hearing to consider our request,” the lawyer added.

A spokesperson for Mordovia’s High Court told TASS that the court had not received the request yet.

Whelan’s lawyers earlier requested the Moscow City Court to consider the possibility of handing him over to the US to continue serving his sentence in the United States but the court refused to consider the matter and forwarded it to Mordovia, where the convict is incarcerated.

Whelan, who holds US, British, Canadian and Irish passports, was detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in Moscow on December 28, 2018, while on a spy mission. A criminal case was opened against him under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code (espionage). The Moscow City Court eventually sentenced Whelan to 16 years in a high-security penal colony.

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