The Russian prosecutor, Милана Дигаева (Milana Digayeva), asked for a harsh sentence as she closed the government's case yesterday. The request shocked the defense lawyers, who are seeking an acquittal. Despite the lack of evidence, she believes Paul should spend 18 years in a "harsh regimen" camp. When we asked Paul's lawyers about the severe sentence request, they explained that Paul hadn't been "repentant" even though he is innocent.
[ https://www.cbsnews.com/news/russia-espionage-trial-ex-us-marine-paul-whelan-today-family-expect-wrongful-conviction-2020-05-25/ ]
[ https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/05/25/russian-prosecutors-demand-18-years-for-ex-us-marine-in-spy-trial-a70375 ]
It is hard to repent something you haven't done. Paul was falsely arrested and wrongfully imprisoned. The FSB pressed Paul in the last days of December 2018, after his arrest and before anyone was allowed to see him, to confess. He didn't. Paul has maintained his innocence throughout. He did so when he addressed the court yesterday. Now the prosecution wants him to pay as heavy a price as possible for his innocence.
The trial is the milestone, not the sentence. The US Embassy in Moscow has done incredible work supporting Paul. Ambassadors Huntsman and Sullivan both spoke out about the injustice being done to Paul and the damage to US-Russia relations. We expect that the US government will finally act to bring this mockery of justice, this abuse of an American citizen, to an end. We hope the Russian Federation will, likewise, see Paul's release - through clemency or some other means - as an opportunity to help rebuild the US-Russia relationship.