World

American detained in Russia plans to testify in his own defense

ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A Texas man who is currently on trial in Russia over child abuse allegations plans to take the stand in his own defense.

David Barnes, who has been detained in Moscow for nearly two years, is expected to testify in front of the judge who will decide his fate at the conclusion of the bench trial. He is slated to be called to the stand after his defense team wraps up their presentation of evidence, though an exact date has not yet been determined since the trial is not occurring on consecutive days.

Barnes appeared in Savelovsky District Court on Monday, telling an ABC News reporter as he left the courtroom in handcuffs that he wanted to “thank America for all their prayers and support.”

He has pleaded not guilty to allegations by Russian prosecutors that he abused his two sons several years ago in Montgomery County, Texas.

Law enforcement officials in Texas previously investigated these claims when they were raised by Svetlana Koptyaeva, Barnes’ Russian ex-wife, but found no basis to charge him.

The only charges filed in the United States in connection with the case were against Koptyaeva, not Barnes. Montgomery County prosecutors accused Koptyaeva of felony interference with child custody for allegedly taking the children out of the United States during a custody dispute.

Koptyaeva has maintained that the children were abused, telling ABC News by email that they “spoke the truth” due to the “suffering and pain” that she says they experienced.

Barnes is being held in the same Moscow jail where Trevor Reed was once detained, but is still considered the primary guardian of the children in Texas.

He says he traveled to Moscow at the end of 2021 to try to gain custody or visitation rights in a Russian court due to Koptyaeva allegedly taking the children out of the country illegally in 2019. He has said he was unable to see them despite his court-authorized rights in the U.S.

The trial began in November 2022 and has been taking place occasionally. The Texas law enforcement agencies that did not find cause to charge Barnes have no involvement in the trial, despite the case pertaining to allegations from their state.

The prosecution’s arguments took 10 months to complete due to the nonconsecutive scheduling. Gleb Glinka, Barnes’ attorney, began his defense last month and presented documents in court on Monday. All court proceedings associated with the case are closed to members of the public, U.S. Embassy officials and the media.

The vast majority of defendants in Russian criminal trials are convicted. Barnes faces an extensive sentence in a penal colony if the judge finds him guilty.

Other Americans like Reed and Brittney Griner were sent to remote prison complexes in Mordovia after their convictions before being brought back to the U.S. through prisoner exchanges, while American Paul Whelan remains detained in Mordovia.

Barnes’ trial is scheduled to continue in Moscow on Nov. 20.

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