EXCLUSIVE | Blinken talks on the phone with Paul Whelan, an American wrongfully detained in Russia

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone Wednesday with American Paul Whelan, who is being held in a remote prison camp in Russia, a source with knowledge told CNN.

The head of US diplomacy told Whelan to “keep the faith” and that they are “doing everything possible to get him home as soon as possible.” It is the second time that Blinken has spoken with Whelan, who has been detained in Russia for more than four years, according to the source. The other call between Whelan and Blinken occurred on December 30, another source familiar with the matter told CNN.

Such was Biden’s agonizing decision to accept a deal to release Brittney Griner but leave Paul Whelan in Russia
Whelan, who the US government believes has been unjustly detained, can make calls from the prison camp in Mordovia, but the source declined to elaborate on how the call to Blinken came about.

Paul Whelan told his parents that he “was able to have a long and frank conversation with Secretary Blinken,” his brother David Whelan told CNN Wednesday, without elaborating on the call.

“I think Secretary Blinken obviously sent a message, and that message is to Paul and to our family, that the US government continues to advocate for Paul and his release,” David Whelan said later on “The Lead.” from CNN.

“I think it’s also a message to the Kremlin that the US government hasn’t budged and that, in fact, its top foreign policy officer is willing to call a prisoner, which is, I think, amazing.” he added.

The conversation comes at a time when the Biden government continues to reiterate to Russia the serious proposal it put on the table for Whelan’s release more than 8 months ago. Russia has not responded substantively, two government officials told CNN.

Despite the fact that Whelan’s proposal is “absolutely” an offer the United States considers serious, a senior administration official explained, the lack of a substantive response from Russia, along with the wrongful detention of The Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich earlier this year, has forced the United States to continue its efforts to find another offer to put on the table.

The senior official said that “it is still a necessity that we find a way to resolve this.”

“If we can’t do it with what we have available now, we’ll have to figure out what it takes to be able to bring our people home,” the official said.

The US presented Russia with a “serious proposal” to free Paul Whelan, says Antony Blinken
The Biden administration continues to seek deals around the world that could convince Russia to release the two wrongfully detained Americans, as CNN reported earlier this year. The United States currently does not have any high-level Russian spies in its custody, current and former US officials say, forcing it to turn to allies for help.

Elizabeth Whelan told CNN last week that she expected efforts to get her brother’s release to move more quickly.

“I’m not sure we’ve reached the point where you can say everything possible has been done to get Paul home,” she said.

“As Paul’s sister, I feel this sense of urgency and frustration very deeply. I don’t want to make it seem like people don’t care, because they certainly do. But what is needed is a greater awareness of the fact that time can running out,” he said. “We don’t know if the Russians will continue to discuss in the future how to do a trade or whatever for Paul.” In an exclusive phone call to CNN in May, Whelan said she was confident that her case would be a priority for the US government, but that she would like to see it resolved more quickly. She also expressed concern about the possibility of being abandoned again if the United States wins Gershkovich’s release.

“It’s an extreme concern for me and my family,” she said then.

The United States failed to win Whelan’s release in prisoner exchanges that returned home two other Americans wrongfully detained last year: Trevor Reed in April and Brittney Griner in December.

Paul Whelan, the American detained in Russia, calls CNN from prison
However, Whelan declared in May that he was more confident in the US efforts to bring him home than he was when he spoke to CNN in December after Griner’s release.

“I’ve been told that I’m not going to be left behind, and I’ve been told that while Evan’s case is a priority, mine is as well, and that people are aware of the fact that this is having an extremely negative impact on me. and in


Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *