Paul Whelan remains in Russian prison as the one year anniversary of his false arrest approaches [12/28/2019]. In the past year, Paul's health has declined and his life has unraveled, collateral damage in geopolitical gamesmanship. The FSB continues to keep him isolated and limits his ability to defend himself against the false charges.
Journalists have noted in the past that Paul "lived" in Novi, Michigan, as though his current wrongful detention in Lefortovo was some sort of a choice to relocate. His life continues outside his prison cell and exhibits the sort of collateral damage common to hostages. On Friday, BorgWarner eliminated Paul's job [12/13/2019] so he will have no income and no job on his release from Russia. This increases the strain on our family's ability to keep some semblance of his former life ready for when he returns home.
The UK Embassy visited Paul last Thursday [12/12/2019] and gave us an update on his status, which is unchanged. Although Paul has made 5 requests to speak with our family by phone, 4 have been ignored and one rejected by Inspector Khiznyak. Paul will not be able to speak with anyone outside the prison from Christmas Eve (12/24/2019) to January 9, 2020, as Lefortovo prison will be closed to visitors. The FSB continues to use this isolation to create an environment that will pressure Paul to plead guilty.
This isolation is amplified by Paul's lack of access to his defense team. He has met with his lawyers privately, without FSB oversight, for only 1 hour since August. The FSB now rations access to his lawyers to 3 hours per week, always in supervised visits. It's hardly surprising that Paul's defense team believes it will take 8 months to review the evidence.
Imagine having 96 hours [8 months (Sept. - April) x 12 hours / month] - the equivalent of 2 ½ normal work weeks - to translate evidence and prepare your defense, in a language you don't speak against, charges that could result in 20 years of imprisonment?
Paul will have another detention hearing around Christmas Day. Without an independent judiciary to highlight the FSB's lack of evidence, Paul is sure to be held for at least 3 more months. Without action in Washington D.C. to secure his freedom, his life will continue to unravel and Paul will end up spending many more months as a political prisoner of the Russian government.