NOVI, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – After not hearing from Paul Whelan for more than a week, his family released a statement today that they have been able to reestablish contact with him. His family and the Biden administration have been concerned about Whelan after he hadn’t contacted his family over Thanksgiving or for his father’s birthday. All anyone knew at the time was that he had been transferred to a hospital.
During that time, Biden’s Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “Our embassy in Moscow has been working to understand exactly Paul’s condition and why his family hasn’t heard from him. It is a concern. We’re all worried, very much worried about Paul, and about Brittney Griner as well. As we have said repeatedly, they shouldn’t be detained in the first place.”
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Whelan, a former Marine who later worked as a corporate security executive, was arrested in 2018 when he was in Russia, accused of being a spy for the United States. Russia never presented any public evidence and Whelan denied the charges. Nevertheless, he received a 16-year sentence in a Russian labor camp and has served three-and-a-half years so far.
Whelan had not been heard from since November 23rd according to family members and they said not hearing from him over Thanksgiving and his dad’s birthday was “highly unusual.”
Paul’s brother, David, spoke to WWJ-950 News radio on Thursday and said, “He warned us that if he was ever not able to make a phone call for three days that we should let the U.S. Embassy know. So we did, and it’s now been a week. It’s extremely unusual of Paul to miss calling on anniversaries, on birthdays, on holidays because he knows that’s important to our family, but I think it’s important for his ability to survive there, to have those connections to normalcy.”
In a new development, a statement was reported by the Associated Press today. In the statement, Whelan’s family said they had been able to resume contact with Paul and that he called his parents early U.S. time on Friday. During the call, he didn’t explain why he was at the hospital but said that he’d been given a “special dispensation” to call. So the good news for everyone is that Whelan is back in contact with his family again – and that he’s alive.
The Biden administration had offered Russia a deal back in July in order to secure the release of both Whelan and Griner but it is unknown what the offer was or if Russia will respond to it.
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