Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday the United States is "outraged" by Russia's conviction of American Paul Whelan on espionage charges, criticizing the trial that led to a conviction and a 16-year prison sentence as illegitimate.
Both Whelan and his family have said he is innocent and that he was in Russia at the time of his arrest to attend the wedding of a friend of his time in the Marines. For months, the United States has voiced concern about Whelan's lack of due process and his deteriorating health in Russian custody, and Pompeo personally demanded Whelan's release in a tweet on May 30. He did it again on Monday.
"Outraged by today's decision to convict Paul Whelan on the basis of a secret trial, with secret evidence and without the proper permits for defense witnesses," Pompeo tweeted Monday. "Paul's treatment by the Russian authorities remains appalling, and we demand his immediate release."
AMERICAN PAUL WHELAN RECEIVES A 16-YEAR SENTENCE IN THE RUSSIAN PRISON: REPORT
Pompeo elaborated on it in a separate statement Monday.
"We have serious concerns that Mr. Whelan has been deprived of the guarantees of a fair trial that Russia must provide him in accordance with his international human rights obligations," he said. "Russia was unable to provide Mr. Whelan with a fair hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal; and during his detention he has risked his life by ignoring his long-standing medical condition; and has kept him unconsciously isolated from his family and friends."
The top US diplomat also said the United States is demanding the "immediate release of Paul Whelan," in a longer statement.
GEN. JACK KEANE ON RUSSIAN FIREFIGHTERS INTERCEPTED BY UNITED STATES COMBAT BOATS: "RUTHLY TEST OUR DEFENSES"
Whelan, who was arrested in December 2018, said he had been misled, that a person he considered a friend gave him a USB drive that allegedly contained vacation photos. But minutes later, the Russian authorities broke into his hotel room. Russia says the unit contained a list of names of those who work at a classified security agency.
US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan also criticized Russia on Monday for his treatment of Whelan.
"Ambassador Sullivan: The United States demands that the American citizen #PaulWhelan be released immediately. His conviction is a mockery of justice. The world is watching," Rebecca Ross, a Sullivan spokeswoman, tweeted.
"FOREIGN ADVERSARIES" MEETING US ABOUT GEORGE FLOYD UNREST, INTELLIGENCE NEWSLETTER WARNED
The official Russian Twitter account of the United States Embassy in Russia posted an identical message.
Whelan, according to the BBC, said that his detention in Russia constitutes a "hostage situation" and that "Russia says she caught James Bond on a spy mission. In fact, they kidnapped Bean on vacation."
Whelan previously told AFP that he may be detained as a pawn in a possible prisoner swap between the United States and Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry denied such claims.
Sullivan late last month, in a video posted on the website of the US Embassy. USA In Russia, he tore the country's deal apart for Whelan, who is also a citizen of Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
"We have watched while Paul has denied due process, while he has been denied access to the outside world, to his family and friends, while he has been denied outside medical care as his health continues to deteriorate, and at every opportunity we have spoken outside, "Sullivan said. "The Russian authorities have done very little to guarantee Paul's basic human rights."
Sullivan added: "The Russian government has not allowed any evidence, none. All court hearings are held behind closed doors, in secret, away from the media, the public, and me. Away from anyone who may question their definition of & # 39; red- delivered. & # 39; There has been talk of evidence, allusion to evidence and even allusions to discussion of evidence.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
"But where is the evidence itself? The hearings are held behind closed doors. The details of the alleged witnesses and the alleged evidence appear in the press, but we do not know what is happening behind closed doors. Why how much secret? " Sullivan said.
Whelan's brother David Whelan also denounced the sentence on Monday and thanked American diplomats for their support.
"We hope the @RealDonaldTrump Administration will now take steps to bring Paul home," he said in a tweet.
"Once again, our family owes an unpayable debt to the @USEmbRu @USEmbRuPress staff and to Ambassador John Sullivan's focus on achieving justice and freedom for #PaulWhelan," David Whelan said in other.
Morgan Phillips and Paulina Dedaj of Fox News, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.