The Russian Foreign Ministry said Paul Whelan’s allegations of ill-treatment while in pre-trial detention proved to be false and that diplomats had been granted access to him, Reuters reported.
“They (the diplomats) know perfectly well that the public statements by the accused about certain abuses and even threats (made to his) life in pre-trial detention — are nothing more than the defense’s provocatory line to help artificially create noise around his person,” the ministry said in a statement.
In a series of tweets, the U.S. embassy described Moscow’s comments as “pulp fiction” and called Whelan’s treatment “shameful.”
Whelan has alleged in court that he’s been treated harshly, including being forced to his knees by a prison guard and threatened with a gun. In August, Whelan’s lawyer said his client suffers from a groin hernia that was being aggravated by prison authorities.
Whelan also claimed he has been assaulted in prison and that his life is in danger.
Moscow said he received medical attention from doctors at the prison and that a special clinic found no serious ailment.
“So there is no threat to Whelan’s health, and the pretending which he is periodically resorting to is apparently part of the training for U.S. intelligence officers,” the ministry said.
The U.S. embassy in Moscow said Whelan’s health is deteriorating and that an independent examination is needed to assess his condition.
Whelan, who has U.S., Irish, Canadian and British citizenship, was arrested in December 2018 while at a friend’s wedding in Russia on charges that he received state secrets.
Russian news agency Rosbalt reported that Whelan was arrested in his Metropol Hotel room five minutes after he received a USB stick containing a list of names of people working at a classified security agency. He is also accused of attempting to recruit a friend to obtain information from Russian departments and agencies.
American officials have called for his release. The U.S. embassy said Russia has not presented evidence of Whelan’s guilt and has refused to provide him a translator even though he doesn’t speak Russian, and they have not let him make a phone call.
Whelan previously worked for Kelly Services, which maintains offices in Russia. He received a “bad conduct” discharge from the Marines, according to his official military personnel file obtained by Fox News.
Fox News’ Katherine Lam contributed to this report.
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