Day 217 - Paul Whelan - Lefortovo Prison Moscow - Update August 1
Paul Whelan was falsely arrested by the FSB 7 months ago [as of July 28, 2019]. He languishes in a Russian prison - ill-treated by an FSB investigator, who violates Russian and international law, who directs prison officials to break their own rules - while the Russian government figures out what to do with him.
The Russian police have no case. There is no ongoing gathering of evidence so there will never be a case. There is just day after day of waiting in prison, waiting for some political resolution. Even the prison monitors haven't been able to speak with Paul until last week [https://www.interfax.ru/
russia/670550], and that conversation was interfered with by prison officials.
Paul has asked the US, UK, Canadian, and Irish governments for help. He made a plea for public support from President Trump. His plea has so far gone unanswered. We hope that Paul's request for help is being addressed behind the scenes. Our family is glad that Paul himself has not given up hope and is as determined as ever not to give in.
The Russian government has suggested some possible diplomatic options, including 2 properties and some felons in US prisons. Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov's initial gambit was expanded by Foreign Minister Lavrov [http://www.aif.ru/politics/
world/dlya_tango_nuzhny_dvoe_ eksklyuzivnoe_intervyu_ sergeya_lavrova_aif] to 6 properties and some additional Russians held in the US. There's been no public response from the United States.
The Russian government has made clear that, in any event, Paul would not be part of any discussion until he is sentenced. Fortunately, we know that they have the precedent of Edmund Pope's rapid trial and conviction back in 2000. Since convictions are a foregone conclusion, staging a trial isn't a diplomatic obstacle. Whether there is any diplomacy going on is unclear.
This lack of communication has been consistent: prisoners and families are kept in the dark. Paul has raised health concerns in his consular visits. The prison has denied that he has any medical issues to worry about but refuses to document how they know that. The Russian Foreign Ministry's rejection of requests made in diplomatic notes for Paul to see an external physician. There is no way to alleviate Paul's concerns without knowing that someone is addressing his medical needs.
We visited Washington 2 weeks ago and met with Congressional staff and some agency representatives. We will continue to push after the recess for Congressional support and action on Paul's behalf. A bill was recently introduced to sanction FSB officers at Lefortovo in the case of the 24 Ukrainian sailors [https://www.congress.gov/
bill/116th-congress/house- bill/3841/ ] held there. We hope that, whatever diplomatic or legislative levers the US government has at its disposal, they will use them to free Paul and bring him home.