09:29 GMT24 February 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The appeal hearing for Paul Whelan, who has been in Russian custody on charges of espionage for the past year, concluded on Tuesday with a Moscow court upholding his pre-trial detention, which his lawyer has told Sputnik could be because he was deemed a flight risk.

    "To uphold the decision of the Moscow City Court, to not satisfy the appeal", a Sputnik correspondent quoted judge Olga Drobyshevskaya as announcing.

    The hearing was held behind closed doors, as part of the case materials were classified.

    According to Whelan's lawyer Olga Karlova, the facility where her client is being held — the Lefortovo prison in Moscow — described him as a flight risk in a letter submitted to the court.

    A citizen of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Ireland, Whelan was arrested in Moscow on charges of espionage in December 2018. He has maintained his innocence and insisted he was in Russia to attend a friend's wedding. According to information provided to the court, Whelan had been visiting Russia regularly since 2007.

    If convicted, Whelan faces a 10-20 year prison sentence.

    Tags:
    detention, Court, espionage, Paul Whelan, Russia
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