US spy suspect to remain in custody in Russia

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A former US marine accused of spying in Russia must remain in custody while he awaits trial, a court has ruled.

Paul Whelan, 48, appeared in court in Moscow on Tuesday to appeal against a decision to deny him bail.

He was detained in the city last month and Russian security officials say that he was “caught spying”.

Mr Whelan insists that he is innocent and his family have told the BBC that he was simply visiting Russia to attend a wedding.

He is awaiting trial on espionage charges and, if found guilty, could face up to 20 years in jail.

Few details of the case against him have been made public, but his lawyer has told the BBC that Mr Whelan is in good spirits and is determined to prove his innocence.

Vladimir Zherebenkov added that he has seen no evidence from investigators that shows his client is a spy.

“I saw him last week… he feels well, he has a sense of dignity,” he told reporters outside the court on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the US embassy in Moscow told Russian media it was “closely following” the case and called for a “fair and transparent trial”.

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