Former Marine Paul Whelan, detained in Russia on espionage charges since 2018, had a second phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Whelan’s arrest was made during a trip to Moscow for a wedding, and both he and US officials deny the espionage charges allegations.
According to an article published by New York Post, former Marine Paul Whelan, imprisoned in Russia on espionage charges since 2018, had a second phone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Whelan, currently detained in a prison camp in Mordovia, received assurances from Blinken that efforts are being made to secure his release and to bring him home. Whelan’s arrest was made during a trip to Moscow for a wedding, and both he and US officials deny the espionage allegations.
The Biden administration has been actively negotiating for Whelan’s release, but the Kremlin has not shown serious interest in offers. Whelan’s case espionage charges parallels the detainment of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, also wrongfully imprisoned, as US officials strive to secure both their releases.
Whelan expressed hope of espionage charges in the prioritization of his case by the US government, though he has also expressed frustration with espionage charges over the lack of progress.
According to an article published by Reuters, in a separate incident, WNBA star Brittney Griner was released by Russia after being detained for drug charges, resulting in the return of international arms dealer Viktor Bout.
The negotiations aimed to secure espionage charges Whelan’s freedom as well, but Moscow remained uninterested. Meanwhile, American schoolteacher Marc Fogel, imprisoned in 2021 for possessing marijuana, was excluded from the deal.
Gershkovich’s arrest marked the first instance of an American journalist being detained on espionage charges in Russia since the Cold War’s end. Both the US government and the Wall Street Journal have denied Kremlin’s accusations, and there have been hints of discussions about espionage charges and a possible prisoner swap.