News from Whelan, imprisoned in Russia, asking to speak to Biden. Last Minute UK, Russia headlines and events
American basketball player Britney Griner was released today after a prisoner swap deal that the United States had with Russia for several months. However, another American prisoner, Paul Whelan, who was mentioned in negotiations with Russia, was not released as expected.
Paul Whelan told CNN by phone from a labor camp he ran in Russia that he was “disappointed” that the Biden administration had not done more to secure his release. Whelan said he wanted to speak directly to President Joe Biden and said, “I hope they bring me home at any cost.”
According to CNN, Whelan said he spoke with an administration official today about the situation, but wanted to speak directly to Biden. “I think this message should really go to people like the President so that they know what I personally go through, what we are dealing with in these foreign prisons under these conditions,” Whelan said.
“It’s clear that I’m being held hostage here,” Whelan said.
“I am very disappointed that nothing has been done for my release, especially since the fourth anniversary of my arrest is approaching. I was arrested for a crime I never committed. I don’t understand why I’m still here.” Whelan said.
President Biden said that although American basketball player Brittney Griner was released under a prisoner exchange deal, the authorities continue to seek the release of Paul Whelan.
“Russia assesses Pavel’s situation differently”
“Unfortunately, for completely unjustified reasons, Russia views Paul’s situation differently than Britney. We have not yet secured Paul’s release, but we are not giving up, we will never give up,” Biden said.
White House National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby said in a statement that their goal was to save both Griner and Whelan, but that was impossible. Kirby said the Biden administration would continue to actively discuss with Russia the release of Whelan.
Whelan told CNN that he was happy with Griner’s release, but was led to believe that things were going in the right direction, that governments were negotiating and that something fair was about to happen.
“Are you surprised you didn’t participate in the trade deal?” Whelan asked him. When asked, he replied, “I was surprised.”
Whelan charged with espionage
Whelan said the reason he was not included in the swap deal is because Russia considers him a spy. “They put me on the next level compared to Trevor (Reed) and Britney,” Whelan said.
Trevor Reid, like Whelan, was a former Marine and was released as part of a swap deal reached by Washington and Moscow in April after being in Russian custody since 2019. The United States released Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in exchange for Reid.
Whelan said: “They always rated me at a higher level than other criminals of the same type as me. For some reason, I am treated differently here than Westerners accused of being spies. espionage, I am treated differently from him: “It is very different from those who are held in other prisons,” he said.
“I hope that President Biden and his administration will bring me home, whatever price they have to pay at this stage,” Whelan said, according to CNN.
“I packed my bag, I’m ready to go home”
“If I were to send a message to President Biden, I would say that this is a delicate situation and needs to be addressed immediately. I collected my things. I’m ready to go home. I just need a plane to pick me up. up,” Whelan said.
According to CNN, Whelan also says he’s worried he won’t be able to return to the United States and that he still has 12 years before his sentencing.
Paul Whelan’s brother, David Whelan, also said in a statement on the matter that the Biden administration had informed the family that Paul Whelan would not be released as a result of today’s deal, which helped them mentally prepare.
Paul Whelan, a holder of American, British, Canadian and Irish passports, was detained in Russia in December 2018 and convicted of espionage two years later.
Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence in a prison in Mordovia.
The fact that it could not be heard as of November 24, which is celebrated as Thanksgiving Day in the US, has led US officials to express concern over the situation in recent weeks.
Kirby said the United States could not receive information from Moscow about Whelan’s condition or whereabouts.
Biden administration officials re-established contact with Whelan on December 2 and said he was fine.
Her brother, David Whelan, said that Paul Whelan was transferred to the prison hospital, but noted that they did not know why.
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