US Embassy Visit To Spy Suspect Whelan In Moscow Prison 'Abruptly Cancelled' - Family

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 19th March, 2020) A planned Thursday visit by US diplomats to see Paul Whelan, detained on charges of espionage in Moscow, was suddenly cancelled, his brother David Whelan said in a statement on Wednesday that was obtained by Sputnik.

"The consular visits have been our only regular information conduit. But a US Embassy visit today [March 19], that had been approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was abruptly cancelled," the brother said.

David noted that the grows more worried about Paul's detention amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Three judges of the Moscow City court are scheduled to hear Paul Whelan's case on Monday but the trial may be postponed, according to the brother.

"Paul's only English-speaking defense lawyer, Olga Karlova, sent an email that the trial has been scheduled to start at 11am. We hope that it starts - and finishes - quickly," he added. "But the Russian Supreme Court has suspended hearing all but the most urgent cases, so Paul's trial may not actually occur."

The Russian authorities arrested Paul - a citizen of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Ireland - on charges of espionage in December of 2018.

Paul Whelan has maintained that he is innocent and insisted he came to Russia to attend a friend's wedding. According to information provided to the Russian court, Paul had been visiting Russia regularly since 2007.

If convicted of the charges against him, Whelan faces a sentence of between ten and 20 years in prison.