A former U.S. Marine who was sentenced to 16 years in a Russian labor camp after being convicted of espionage will not seek an appeal and instead is waiting for a potential prisoner swap.

Paul Whelan was arrested for spying and convicted on June 15 by a Moscow City Court but has maintained that he is innocent and claims that he has been set up.

His brother, David Whelan, told Fox News in an email Tuesday that the family has read the reports "about Paul's choice not to appeal because he does not believe in the Russian justice system."

"It's no surprise but since we cannot speak to Paul, we only know what is published in Russian media," David Whelan said.

PAUL WHELAN'S BROTHER SAYS RUSSIA CONVICTION WAS PART OF 'SHAM TRIAL'

Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who was arrested for alleged spying, listens to the verdict in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 15, 2020. Whelan has insisted on his innocence, saying he was set up. The U.S. Embassy has denounced Whelan's trial as unfair, pointing that no evidence has been provided. (Sofia Sandurskaya, Moscow News Agency photo via AP)

Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who was arrested for alleged spying, listens to the verdict in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 15, 2020. Whelan has insisted on his innocence, saying he was set up. The U.S. Embassy has denounced Whelan’s trial as unfair, pointing that no evidence has been provided. (Sofia Sandurskaya, Moscow News Agency photo via AP)

One of Paul Whelan's attorneys, Olga Karlova, told the BBC on Tuesday that her client won't appeal his sentence – which takes effect on Friday – because he feels the attempts will be "pointless."

"He decided not to waste time, he doesn't think it will achieve anything. It's pointless," Karlova said. "He said that he'd been thinking about it, and as there are some talks about his return home, he doesn't want to lose a minute."

Karlova did not specify if talks are currently in place for a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russia, but Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, has previously said Whelan is not a political prisoner and therefore a swap is not an option.

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Whelan and his attorneys disagree, saying he was set up in what Whelan has called a "sham trial."

Whelan said at the time of his arrest in December 2018, he was in Russia for a fellow Marine's wedding, when a person he considered a friend handed him a USB drive allegedly containing vacation photos. Minutes later, Russian authorities stormed his hotel room and arrested him.

Russia says the drive contained a list of names of those working at a classified security agency.

U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have demanded Whelan be set free. David Whelan told Fox News the family has "not heard anything about the next steps that the U.S. or other governments might take on Paul's behalf."

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"A trade application of sanctions or some other action would be decided by government officials, and we would not be involved in those discussions," he added.

Still, Paul Whelan's legal team remains hopeful for a prisoner swap.

"We have information from various places, but I can't tell you where from," Karlova told BBC. "The information is reliable."

Source Link:
https://www.foxnews.com/world/paul-whelan-russia-spying-sentence-appeal

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