A former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan held in Russia on suspicion of spying has been sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Mr Whelan, who holds U.S., British, Canadian and Irish passports, was detained in the Russian capital at the end of December 2018., according to reports.
Mr Whelan was accused of espionage, a charge he denied.
Russia said the ex-marine, 50, was caught with a computer flash drive containing classified information. Paul Whelan, who pleaded not guilty, said he was set up in a sting operation and had thought the drive, given to him by a Russian acquaintance, contained holiday photos.
Mr Whelan’s lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, said an appeal would be made against the verdict within 10 days.
U.S. diplomats have described the case as a “significant obstacle” to improving already poor bilateral ties and have repeatedly said there is no evidence against him and asked
Russia to release him.
Meanwhile, Moscow has called for the release of two Russians jailed in the United States – arms dealer Viktor Bout, who agreed to sell weapons to U.S. undercover agents posing as Colombian guerrillas planning to attack American soldiers, and Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was convicted of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine.