Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen who has been detained in Russia for 5 years on unfounded accusations of espionage, expressed disbelief that the Biden administration has not secured his release while other American prisoners have been exchanged. In a phone conversation from his prison cell with BBC News, Whelan shared his concerns about being excluded from potential future prisoner swaps with Russia.
He expressed his disappointment to the BBC about a significant act of disloyalty, finding it highly aggravating. He acknowledged that the United States has presented various well-considered ideas, but they do not align with the desires of the Russians, resulting in a constant back-and-forth. However, he is concerned that this prolonged negotiation is taking a toll on his own life.
Whelan, who holds citizenship in the U.K., Ireland, and Canada, expressed disbelief at being left behind for five years.
“complicated” its efforts to improve ties with
In the beginning of this month, the United States Department of State stated that Russia had “complicated” their attempts at improving relations.
declined a “substantial and novel” proposition from to secure the release of Whelan, along with Wall Street Journal reporter
The individual, who was detained in Russia while on a reporting assignment in March, is facing unproven accusations of espionage.
Gerschkovich is still waiting for a trial, but Whelan, who was detained in 2018 for similar accusations while attending a friend’s wedding, received a 16-year sentence.
In the year 2020, the accused individual and his relatives have strongly refuted all accusations made against him, claiming that he is being manipulated by Russia for political gain.
In an email sent earlier this month, David Whelan, brother of CBS Detroit employee Paul Whelan, stated that the White House assured their family that Paul’s case was still a major concern. However, he admitted to being uncertain about the significance of this statement.
David Whelan stated in an email that it took almost a year for the United States to gather its resources and present a single offer for Paul’s release. Unfortunately, the offer was rejected and now they are back at the starting point, with no progress made since December 28, 2018. Whelan urges for any potential leads or solutions to be explored at this time.
David Whelan urged for the White House to take action and demonstrate their commitment beyond empty words. He specifically called for President Biden to personally meet with his family, stating that it would provide reassurance that the president will fulfill his promise to Paul and not let an opportunity to reunite Paul with his loved ones slip by.
In previous instances, the United States has engaged in exchanges of prisoners with Russia, such as the widely-publicized agreement in 2022 that involved a prominent basketball player.
Moscow has agreed to release long-jailed individuals in exchange for the U.S. releasing them.
Viktor Bout, a supplier of weapons
He was given the moniker “the Merchant of Death” due to his illegal actions.
According to Whelan, the conditions at the prison where he is currently held have significantly worsened. He specifically mentioned issues with dampness and black mold, and has expressed concern that he will not be included in any future prisoner exchange between the United States and Russia.
During a phone interview, he expressed concern that a potential agreement will result in him being overlooked. He believes that his case will continuously be pushed down the priority list and ultimately forgotten.
-Alex Sundby provided information for the report.