Paul Whelan.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)

A former U.S. Marine, Paul Whelan, was convicted of espionage in a Russian court and sentenced to 16 years in prison on Monday, The Washington Post reports. He was arrested after allegedly being handed a flash drive containing "state secrets" while he was in Russia to attend a wedding. He said he thought the flash drive contained an acquaintance's vacation photos.

Whelan, 50, said during the trial that he had been framed, calling his prosecution a "political charade." He said Russia was "taking political hostages" because it "feels impotent in the world." Whelan's attorney said he planned to appeal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has demanded Whelan's release. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called the case open-and-shut, saying Whelan was caught "red-handed."

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Harold Maass, The Week US

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at The Week. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 debut of the U.S. print edition and served as editor of TheWeek.com when it launched in 2008. Harold started his career as a newspaper reporter in South Florida and Haiti. He has previously worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, ABC News and Fox News, and for several years wrote a daily roundup of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance.