The former U.S. Marine, who also holds British, Canadian and Irish passports, has denied the allegations. After the verdict was announced, he called the trial “political theater.”
Whelan’s brother David Whelan said in a statement released immediately after the verdict was announced that they expect Paul’s defense to file an appeal.
“It was the Russian legal system that was found guilty of injustice. The court’s decision merely completes the final piece of this broken judicial process. We had hoped that the court might show some independence but, in the end, Russian judges are political, not legal, entities,” he said.
Rebecca Ross, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, said Paul Whelan was convicted and sentenced during a secret trial that began in March during which no evidence was produced. She called it “an egregious violation of human rights and international legal norms.”
“The United States demands that U.S. citizen [Paul Whelan] be released immediately,” Ross quoted U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan as having said. “His conviction is a mockery of justice. The world is watching.”
In the days leading up to the verdict’s announcement, Sullivan had leveled criticism at the court, with Ross quoting him on Twitter as having called the trial neither transparent nor fair.
Outside courthouse on Monday, Sullivan said he was “disappointed and outraged” by the decision but was not surprised.
“This is not going to have a good impact on our relationship,” he said.
The relationship between the Kremlin and Washington has been tense for years but has deteriorated following U.S. allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
Late last month, the United States’ top diplomat said Paul Whelan was being denied necessary medical treatment.
“We demand Paul’s release,” he tweeted.
The ruling states Paul Whelan will serve his term at a high-security correctional facility, state-run TASS Russian News Agency reported.