A Russian court on Tuesday extended the pre-trial detention of an American being held on espionage charges.
Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who holds US, British, Canadian and Irish citizenship, has been jailed in Russia since he was arrested at a Moscow hotel on December 28 last year.
The Moscow court extended his detention until March 29, 2020 but did not clarify why it was doing so.
Just before the ruling, Whelan tried to read a statement but was stopped by security guards. Instead, it pressed the two pieces of paper to the wall of his glass cage that contained the statement he wanted to read. It proclaimed his innocence and asked U.S. President Donald Trump and other world leaders to "please act" on his behalf.
An American diplomat visited Whelan in prison Monday and called on Russian authorities to allow the prisoner to speak to his family.
"It’s two days before Christmas," Bart Gorman, the U.S. Charge d’Affaires, said. "A holiday Paul Whelan will spend alone in Lefortovo [Prison]. In the past 12 months, Paul has not heard his parents' voices. Bring Paul some Christmas cheer and let him call home."
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the State Department have been increasingly critical of Moscow, demanding it provide evidence against him and accusing Russia of hindering consular access to him.