Russian media released a video Tuesday of Paul Whelan, the American who has been detained in the country for more than four years on espionage charges.
Whelan appeared in a report from RT, a Russian state-controlled news network. It shows Whelan going about his day in a Russian prison, eating in a cafeteria with others and sewing.
A former Marine, Whelan was detained in Moscow in 2018, charged with espionage and eventually sentenced to 16 years in prison. He has vehemently denied the charges, and U.S. diplomats have pushed for his release.
He can be heard in the clip telling an RT reporter, “You understand when I say that I can’t do an interview, which means I can’t answer any questions.”
His brother David Whelan told CNN that the clips were recorded in May of this year, and that it’s the first time he and his family has seen Paul Whelan since 2020.
“I wish I could see Paul under better circumstances. 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 said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Paul Whelan earlier this month, according to reports. Paul Whelan told media this spring he’s “positive and confident” that “wheels are turning” for his release.
“I have been told that I won’t be left behind, and I have been told that although [detained reporter] Evan [Gershkovich]’s case is a priority, mine is also a priority, and people are cognizant of the fact that this is having an extremely negative impact on me and my family,” he said. “And I’m told that the government is working tirelessly to get me out of here and to get me home so they can then focus effort on Evan and his case.”
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested on espionage charges in March and has remained in custody in Russia since. He is appealing his extended pretrial detainment.
Talks of a prisoner trade for Whelan broke down last year — the same talks that eventually resulted in detained WNBA star Brittney Griner being released from Russian captivity.
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