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Paul Whelan family hopes Biden-Trudeau meeting holds promise

Paul Whelan imprisoned in Russia (U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Russia/Released)

Friday’s meeting between President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stirred some longshot hopes for the family of Paul Whelan, the Novi man behind bars in Russia.

Whelan’s twin brother, David Whelan, shared a note with his brother’s supporters saying he hoped the Biden-Trudeau meeting would include at least some talk about how the two countries could work together to help their citizens who had been arbitrarily detained abroad.

Paul Whelan had been in Russia for a friend’s wedding in December, 2018, when he was arrested on suspicion of espionage, a charge he denied. He was later convicted in a Russian court and sentenced to 16 years in a Russian work camp. He, his family and U.S. officials have said he was wrongfully detained, convicted and sentenced.

“Canada led the 2021 Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations,” David Whelan wrote, calling his brother the poster child for the declaration. “But good intentions need to lead to positive results and require action.”

The Whelan twins were born in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. David Whelan said the family is grateful for the continued support of the Global Affairs Canada staff at the Canadian Embassy in Moscow, who visited his brother last week and deliver some personal supplies.

“They also delivered about 20 kgs of mail (about 44 pounds) to the prison, mail that has been received since Decemberl,” David Whelan wrote, adding that he’d wondered if Mordovia had enough translators to read the mail for the prison.

“Both the consular visit and seeing the mail reassures Paul that he has not been forgotten,” David Whelan wrote.

Paul Whelan continues experiencing sleep deprivation and solitary confinement as well as other degrading treatment at the Russian prison, which is a work camp, according to his brother.

The family urged Americans to send cards and letters to Whelan after the release of WNBA player Brittney Griner, who’d been detained by Russian authorities in Februrary, 2022, and released in December as part of a prisoner exchange.

Anyone who wants to send Paul Whelan a card or letter (no packages) should use this address: American Citizen Services/PNW, Consular Section, 5430 Moscow Place, Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20521-5430.


(c) 2023 The Oakland Press

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