Rare new video has emerged displaying detained American Paul Whelan, who has been held in Russia for greater than 4 years, inside his prison camp.
The video, released by Russian state-controlled information company Russia Today (RT), reveals Whelan carrying a Russian prison uniform in completely different elements of the prison, with pictures of him utilizing a stitching machine and consuming in a cafeteria.
At one level in the video, he tells a reporter from the Kremlin-backed media outlet, “You understand when I say that I can’t do an interview, which means I can’t answer any questions.”
Whelan – who has US, Irish, British and Canadian citizenship – was detained at a Moscow lodge in December 2018 by Russian authorities who alleged he was concerned in an intelligence operation.
The former United States Marine was sentenced to 16 years in prison on an espionage cost he vehemently denies. “I was arrested for a crime that never occurred,” he instructed CNN throughout an unique interview final yr. “I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here.”
After the discharge of the RT video, David Whelan stated in a press release that it “was the first time” that he’d seen what his brother “really looks like since June 2020.” The RT crew had confirmed up on the prison to movie his brother in May and “prison staff retaliated against him after he didn’t participate” in an interview, he stated.
“I wish I could see Paul under better circumstances,” he stated in the assertion, “but it was good to see him again and to see the fight remains in his eyes. It is good to know Paul remains unbowed.”
David Whelan instructed CNN’s Erica Hill on “OutFront” Tuesday that the household had not but heard from the White House concerning the video, however that he would “take at face value what the press secretary said today, which is that they will continue to work for Paul’s release, and hopefully that will come sooner than later.”
Seeing the video, he added, was “valuable” for his household, telling Hill: “If you turn off the volume and look at Paul, I think you get a sense of how resilient he has been, and also a sense of what his life has been like in the prison, so for our family I think it was very valuable to see it.”
Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Whelan, who the US authorities deems wrongfully detained, in line with a supply aware of the decision.
The US was unable to safe Whelan’s launch in prisoner swaps that introduced dwelling two different wrongfully detained Americans final yr: Trevor Reed in April and Brittney Griner in December.
The Biden administration has put forth proposals for Whelan’s launch, however Russia has not responded in a substantive manner, two administration officers instructed CNN.
His sister Elizabeth Whelan instructed CNN’s Isa Soares Tuesday she felt fortunate that “the US took the lead to try and get him out,” including that “not every country is as forward leaning in terms of trying to help their citizens when they’ve been wrongfully detained.”
The lack of response to the Biden administration’s supply, and the wrongful detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich earlier this yr, have compelled the US to proceed looking for one other supply to placed on the desk, stated one senior administration official – regardless of the US nonetheless contemplating its current Whelan proposal a reside supply.
The Biden administration continues to scour the globe for gives that would entice Russia to launch each of the wrongfully detained Americans, as CNN reported earlier this yr. The US doesn’t at present have any high-level Russian spies in its custody, present and former US officers say, driving the necessity to flip to allies for assist.
Elizabeth Whelan instructed CNN Tuesday that in her brother’s cellphone name with Blinken a few weeks in the past, he acquired “reassurance that everything is being done that is possible at this time.”
In one other unique cellphone name to CNN in May, Whelan stated he was assured that his case is a precedence for the US authorities however needs it could possibly be resolved quicker. He additionally expressed issues he could possibly be left behind once more if the US secures Gershkovich’s launch.