May 24, 2019 / 10:36 AM / 5 months ago

Ex-U.S. marine held by Russia for spying says his case is politically motivated

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A former U.S. Marine held in Russia on suspicion of spying told a court on Friday that the case against him was politically motivated and that he believed Russia was using it as revenge for U.S. sanctions, local agencies reported.

The Moscow court ruled to extend Paul Whelan’s pre-trial detention until the end of August, the Interfax, TASS and RIA news agencies also reported.

Whelan, who holds U.S., British, Canadian and Irish passports, was detained in a Moscow hotel room on Dec. 28 and accused of espionage, a charge he denies. If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in jail.

The U.S. embassy said it was extremely concerned after Whelan said earlier he was being subjected to threats and humiliation by a security service investigator.

Reporting by Maxim Rodionov; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by John Stonestreet

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