A Russian court on Friday extended the detention of American citizen Paul Whelan, who has already spent nine months in a prison in Moscow, despite continuous concerns about his wellbeing and the treatment at the detention center.
Whelan was arrested while on vacation in Russia with his family and was charged with being a spy. The former Marine has denied the charges and maintained his innocence.
On Friday, he said in court that he had been dragged by prison guards and his lawyer corroborated Whelan’s claims that such treatment by guards aggravated his hernia and he had to undergo a surgery. Doctors found an injury to his shoulder as well, and Whelan’s family noted last week that it was only “deteriorating, not improving, and could lead to emergency surgery.”
On Saturday, a spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Moscow likewise confirmed in a tweet that the American’s “health is at risk,” ABC News informs.
“And yet Lefortovo prison officials refuse to provide medical records or an independent medical examination. It’s time to put an end to this and allow Paul to go home to get proper medical treatment,” the tweet read.
During the Friday court hearing Whelan read a statement to the press, again claiming he was innocent, but was stopped by court officials from finishing it. “I’m innocent of any charges, all of this is political kidnapping. No crime ever occurred. There is no evidence of a crime. This is a set-up. Isolation continues in order to force a false confession. Medical care for injuries inflicted by the FSB in prison has been refused. My human rights complaints have been resulting in retaliation … Full consular access is being denied.”
He then continued, saying he was a political prisoner, when the press was removed from the court room.
His sentence was prolonged for another two months, until October 29.
A spokesperson for the State Department later said that following the judge’s decision, they “continue to urge the Russian government to guarantee a fair and transparent judicial process without undue delay.”
“We take allegations of mistreatment seriously and are deeply concerned with Mr. Whelan’s allegation of continuing mistreatment at his most recent hearing,” the spokesperson added.