The former Marine Paul Whelan, who also holds British, Irish and Canadian citizenships, was arrested in December 2018 at a luxury hotel in Moscow, where he was attending a wedding.

A court in Moscow on Monday sentenced an American former Marine to 16 years in a high-security prison on espionage charges that and his family have described as a tool to increase his value in a potential future trade for Russians held in the United States.

After the announcement of the sentence, which was two years shorter than prosecutors had asked for Mr. Whelan said: “This is all a political theater”. He added that he did not understand a word of what had happened during the proceedings on Monday because they were conducted entirely in Russian.