Former US marine imprisoned in Russia makes contact with family | Prison News

Paul Whelan’s brother has confirmed the American, convicted on espionage expenses, gave ‘proof of life’ in telephone name.

The household of Paul Whelan, a US man imprisoned in Russia on espionage expenses, has confirmed that he has resumed contact with them after greater than every week of silence that precipitated alarm on the White Home.

Whelan’s brother David mentioned in an announcement that the previous marine referred to as his household on Friday for the primary time since November 23.

“So the decision a minimum of acts as a ‘proof of life’, even when nothing else has been defined: when Paul went there, why, why the calls stopped, why the US Embassy needed to search details about his whereabouts and the Russian authorities refused to reply, and many others,” David Whelan mentioned.

White Home nationwide safety spokesman John Kirby echoed the information on Friday, saying United States consulate personnel had likewise regained contact with Paul Whelan.

“I gained’t get into … any specifics of his well being for privateness causes, however I can let you know that he conveyed to consular officers that he was feeling effectively,” Kirby mentioned.

On Wednesday, Kirby had mentioned President Joe Biden’s administration was “deeply involved” about Whelan’s silence.

Whelan is one among a number of US residents held by Russia. Additionally they embody US basketball star Brittney Griner.

Whelan’s household had been instructed that he had been moved to a jail hospital, however the circumstances have been unclear. Whelan had not beforehand indicated that he was experiencing well being issues.

In his assertion on Friday, Kirby mentioned US consular officers indicated that Whelan had been returned from the hospital to the jail colony within the Mordovia area, the place he’s serving a 16-year sentence.

Whelan is a former US marine who labored as a company safety government. In response to his lawyer, Whelan was arrested in Moscow in December 2018 after being handed a flash drive containing categorised supplies that he didn’t find out about.

Whelan was convicted on espionage expenses in 2020. His household maintains that he’s harmless.

The US has pushed for a prisoner swap that might carry dwelling Whelan and Griner, who’s serving a nine-year sentence for drug possession after authorities discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her baggage at a Moscow airport. Griner was moved to a penal colony in November.

The US has reportedly supplied to launch Russian arms supplier Viktor Bout, at the moment serving a 25-year sentence within the US, in trade for Griner and Whelan.

There’s a precedent for such a swap: In April, Russia exchanged former US marine Trevor Reed for Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was serving a 20-year sentence within the US on drug expenses.

On Tuesday, reporters requested Russian Deputy Overseas Affairs Minister Sergey Ryabkov whether or not a swap was potential earlier than the top of the yr.

“There at all times is an opportunity,” he mentioned. “Regrettably, there have been a number of events when it appeared {that a} determination in favour of it was about to be made, however it by no means occurred.”

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