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Menendez Statement on Russian Court’s Sentencing of U.S. Citizen Paul Whelan

NEWARK – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement in reaction to Moscow’s sham trial against former U.S. marine Paul Whelan after he was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 16 years in prison on Monday:

“Today's sentencing of wrongfully detained American Paul Whelan is a disgrace. My thoughts are with Mr. Whelan and his loved ones who for the past year and a half have seen him languish in a Russian prison without full access to family, lawyers or adequate medical care. With this expected yet outrageous verdict, Vladimir Putin's ‘justice’ system is imprisoning a falsely accused American on trumped up charges and for political reasons.

“To be clear, the end of the trial does not mark the end of our fight for Paul Whelan’s freedom. I stand with the Whelan family on this incredibly difficult day and commend their tireless work against a system that made a mockery out of a fair judicial process.  I also want to acknowledge the work of Ambassador John Sullivan and the dedicated staff at Embassy Moscow who were fully engaged in trying to assist Mr. Whelan. I remain committed to work with the State Department to do everything possible to secure Paul’s freedom and finally bring him back home.”