White House ‘deeply concerned’ about Paul Whelan

Author: Yuvi December 1, 2022

Paul Whelan’s family said they are concerned about the American detainee after he dropped out of contact from the Russian prison camp where he’s being held.

President Joe Biden’s administration said it is “deeply concerned” that Whelan has gone silent.

‘We have been trying to get more information about Mr. Whelan’s condition and his whereabouts. And as we speak this morning, regrettably, we do not have an update specifically about where he is or what condition he’s in,’ White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters in a telephone briefing on Wednesday.

‘That deeply concerns us and we certainly share the anxiety and the concern of the land and family,’ Kirby added. ‘We are deeply concerned about the lack of information and the lack of contact from Paul, and we’re working on it as hard as we can through the diplomatic channels.’

Whelan’s brother, David Whelan, said on Tuesday that the camp authorities said they moved Whelan to a prison hospital but did not provide an explanation.

In a statement, he said the family fears Whelan could have suffered a sudden medical emergency or that the prison authorities might be lying to conceal that Whelan was now in solitary confinement or otherwise held and not allowed to communicate.

Paul Whelan’s family said they are concerned about the American detainee after he dropped out of contact from Russian prison camp – he is pictured above in an August 2019 file photo

President Biden's administration said it is 'deeply concerned' that Paul Whelan has gone silent

President Biden’s administration said it is ‘deeply concerned’ that Paul Whelan has gone silent

Whelan has been held in at Correctional Colony 17 — a prison camp in the Mordovia region around 300 miles from Moscow — for more than two years.

His family became alarmed after Whelan missed scheduled calls with his parents and the US embassy last week for the Thanksgiving holiday. Whelan typically speaks to his family every Thursday.

‘We’re concerned that he may have either some emergency medical issue that is not being disclosed or that he is in fact still at IK-17 and has been placed in solitary as retaliation for something,’ David Whelan said in an email statement to ABC News.

Whelan, a former Marine, has spent nearly four years in detention since he was seized in 2018 by Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service, while visiting Moscow for a friend’s wedding.

He was sentenced to 16 years in prison on espionage charges but the United States and his family say they were fabricated.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told NBC News that the last time US officials spoke to Whelan was on November 16th.

‘We actually had a visit with him. We spoke on the phone with him I think – roughly around the same time. We’ve not had contact since then. We’ve asked for it. We’re pursuing it single day.

David Whelan said the prison camp claims his brother was moved to the prison hospital on Nov. 17.

But Whelan had not complained of any medical issue to US embassy staff that visited him on the 16th or mentioned any move to his parents in a call on Nov. 23.

‘If Paul’s at the prison hospital, why is he being prohibited from making phone calls that every prisoner is allowed to make? Is he unable to make calls? Or is he really still at IK-17 but he’s been put in solitary and the prison is hiding that fact,’ David Whelan said.

The US is seeking to negotiate Whelan’s release as well as the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who has been in Russian detention since February.

Griner was taken this month to a Russian penal colony to serve a nine-year drug sentence after being arrested in February with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. She said at her trial she used them to relieve the pain from sports injuries and did not mean to break the law.

Russia has signaled it wants to trade Whelan and Griner in a prisoner exchange for Russians imprisoned in the US, but efforts to reach a deal have stalled.

Moscow has not provided a “serious response” to any of the American proposals, a senior US diplomat told Reuters.

The United States is seeking to negotiate Paul Whelan's release as well as the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner (above).

The United States is seeking to negotiate Paul Whelan’s release as well as the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner (above).

Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said there is a 'chance' of a prisoner swap deal.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said there is a ‘chance’ of a prisoner swap deal.

But a top Russian official said there was still a chance of a deal.

‘There is always a chance,’ Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters when asked about the chances of a prisoner swap before the end of the year.

He added that the Russian Foreign Ministry was not currently engaged in any dialogue on the subject with the US, “so we aren’t feeling full dynamics.”

Washington has offered to exchange Griner and Whelan for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the US.

Bout once earned the nickname the ‘merchant of death.’

Author: Yuvi

My name is Yuvi, I work as Sub Editor at newscinema.in

1 December, 2022, 12:09 am

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Thursday, 1st December 2022

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