Day 271 - Paul Whelan - Lefortovo Prison Moscow - Update September 24 - detention appeal denied...again

Paul's lawyers appealed his ongoing detention last week and, unsurprisingly, lost.  Judge Yury Pasyunin denied the appeal, a move Vladimir Zherebenkov (, Paul's defense lawyer, indicated was political. []  Mr. Zherebenkov has been quoted on numerous occasions that he believes Paul was set up by a friend who works for the FSB and who was seeking a promotion ("может получить за это звезды" |
Paul spoke over the judge's decision at the September 17 hearing, saying essentially the same thing as Mr. Zherebenkov.  Paul reiterated what he has said from the beginning:  he is not a spy, there is no evidence, and that he was entrapped.  He said a USB had been placed in his room without his knowledge and he was never able to see what was on it.  Paul's situation continues much the same, as he described in a note he held up to the glass wall of the holding tank in the courtroom:  []
- medical treatment continues to be refused
- full consular access continues to be interfered with, so he can not speak freely with embassy representatives when they visit
We are proud of Paul for speaking out in his own defense, since the court was clearly not going to listen to him or his lawyers.
Fortunately, Paul continues to receive visits from embassy staff.  Irish consular staff met with him on September 5, and we learned that he had not seen his lawyer since July 18 outside of hearings and interrogations.  It is hard to prepare a defense when you can't see your lawyer.  UK consular staff saw Paul on September 12, which is how we learned Paul has not agreed to surgery by Russian prison doctors unless he can get a second, a US, medical opinion.  Paul said the prison didn't seem to mind this requirement but it hasn't happened yet.  We continue to worry about his health and his need for surgery, which Mr. Zherebenkov said Russian doctors confirmed.  The United States has asked for a visit next week.  This ongoing communication is a lifeline for Paul.
Now that there has been an indictment - the most recent interrogation Paul has mentioned was on August 29 - the trial is next.[]  We have seen conflicting reports in Russian media about when this might be.  On the one hand, Russian law requires evidence be translated into the language of the accused ("Статья 18. Язык уголовного судопроизводства" ).  Mr. Zherebenkov has said in media that this might take a few months. [ ;;]  On the other hand, Olga Karlova, the English-speaking lawyer on Paul's defense team, emailed me to say she read some of the evidence to him on a visit she had last week.  
We have also been told that not all of the evidence will be translated for Paul, since the Russian law on translation in criminal cases allows the FSB investigator and prosecutor to decide what to share with the defendant.  The US Embassy staff visited Paul yesterday (9/23/2019) and he said that he has not been able to meet with his lawyers about the evidence without FSB present.  Like this past hearing, he will not be able to participate fully in his own defense since he won't have access to all of the evidence and can't speak with his lawyers confidentially.  We are grateful to Mr. Zherebenkov and Ms. Karlova for their efforts on Paul's case.  It appears they've been dealt a rigged hand, though.  Despite a lack of evidence, Paul is likely be tried and convicted at the start of 2020.
We are interested to see the impact of ongoing change within the United States government.  Ambassador Jon Huntsman finishes his appointment next week and the new National Security Advisor, Robert O'Brien, has replaced Ambassador John Bolton.  We are hopeful that Ambassador Huntsman's leadership will be continued by the former Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs in his new role.  We will also be watching the House and Senate resolutions (H. Res. 552 | S. Res. 308 ) move through Congress.  We're encouraged that many parts of the US government have engaged on Paul's behalf.  Only diplomacy will free Paul, since he is unlikely to experience justice in Russia. [ ]