Current News

/

ArcaMax

Whelan, living a 'nightmare,' blames Biden for not doing more to secure his release

Melissa Nann Burke, The Detroit News on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON― Michigan's Paul Whelan, in a blistering new statement, says his life is "destined to end in a slave labor camp" in Russia, blaming the Biden administration for not doing more to secure his release.

"For nearly five years, I've been told that my release was a priority. I was told that everyone was doing everything they could to secure my release. In my mind, that has not been done at all. I've been promised that the United States is coming for me. I hope that happens before it's too late," Whelan said in a statement released Friday by his family.

"This game of diplomatic niceties and pleasant dialog needs to end. The White House, National Security Council and Department of State must take decisive action to secure my release. President Biden, I have paid a high price for being an American citizen. A promise is a promise. The clock is ticking on getting this done. Please bring me home."

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Whelan, 53, of Novi is serving a 16-year sentence and is in his fifth year of detention after a conviction on what he and U.S. officials have long decried as bogus espionage charges. He was left behind twice in the prisoner swaps for basketball star Brittney Griner and another American, Trevor Reed.

Whelan was speaking out on the one-year anniversary of the last Russia-U.S. prisoner exchange that brought home Griner on Dec. 8, 2022. Whelan conveyed his statement Thursday in a call to his parents in Manchester in southwest Washtenaw County, according to his brother, David.

 

"The fake espionage case, amateurish as it was, has been debunked for years. Russia holds me for a king's ransom, constantly asking for more and more for the life of a tourist wrongfully detained," Whelan said in the statement.

"My parents are quite elderly and I have given up hope of seeing them again. ... The Russians have ruined my life. One that is destined to end in a slave labor camp, fraught with intolerable conditions for no reason other than a hatred of human rights and freedoms."

Whelan also recounted the Russians' denying him medical care, resulting in an emergency surgery for a hernia in 2020. He also noted that two Russian prison officials were disciplined for misconduct towards him, and that he was recently assaulted by another prisoner "for no reason other than being an American citizen."

"The unconscionable act of leaving me behind twice now has devalued my life in these people's minds," Whelan said.

...continued

swipe to next page

©2023 www.detroitnews.com. Visit at detroitnews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus