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American imprisoned in Russia complains of sleep deprivation

November 5, 2020 GMT
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Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine who was arrested for alleged spying, listens to the verdict in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 15, 2020. The Moscow City Court on Monday convicted Paul Whelan on charges of espionage and sentenced him to 16 years in maximum security prison colony. Whelan has insisted on his innocence, saying he was set up. The U.S. Embassy has denounced Whelan's trial as unfair, pointing that no evidence has been provided. (Sofia Sandurskaya, Moscow News Agency photo via AP)
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Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine who was arrested for alleged spying, listens to the verdict in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 15, 2020. The Moscow City Court on Monday convicted Paul Whelan on charges of espionage and sentenced him to 16 years in maximum security prison colony. Whelan has insisted on his innocence, saying he was set up. The U.S. Embassy has denounced Whelan's trial as unfair, pointing that no evidence has been provided. (Sofia Sandurskaya, Moscow News Agency photo via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — The brother of an American convicted of espionage in Russia said Thursday that his imprisoned sibling is suffering sleep deprivation at a prison colony where he is serving a 16-year sentence.

David Whelan said his brother, Paul, complained that he was being woken up at approximately 2-hour intervals every night over the past few weeks. The practice apparently began because someone in the Russian system deemed Paul Whelan a flight risk, his brother said.

“It is ridiculous to label someone like Paul - a foreigner lacking in money and language skills, let alone family and other connections in Russia - a flight risk,” David Whelan said.

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The U.S. Embassy has protested to the Russian Foreign Ministry but not received a response, he said.

Paul Whelan, a former corporate security executive from Michigan, was arrested in Moscow in December 2018. His lawyer said Whelan was handed a flash drive that had classified information on it that he didn’t know about.

Whelan was convicted in June and sentenced to 16 years in prison. He was sent to a prison colony in Mordovia, about 350 kilometers (210 miles) east of Moscow.