Day 1704 - Paul Whelan - IK-17 Mordovia Russia - August 28, 2023 - The Silver Lining

Paul Whelan has been a hostage of the Kremlin for 1,704 days.  Today was the first time we've seen what he really looks like since June 2020.  So thank you, Russia Today, because although your reporting is the worst sort of propaganda and you are the mouthpiece for war criminals, at least we could see what Paul looks like after all of these years.

Our favorite moment is at 5:48 when he stares right at the camera.  We see strength and determinaton and contempt.  For those of you who have been asking about his work conditions or living conditions, you'll find plenty of B-roll in this clip.  We have never really had a clear picture of the interviewing room, where he appearst to be meeting US Ambassador Lynne Tracy.

Paul Whelan, American citizen wrongfully detained in Russia, is shown in prison camp IK-17 in Mordovia.

As some of you may remember, a Russia Today propaganda team showed up at IK-17 in May to film Paul.  Not only did he not want to be interviewed, which you can see he politely declined, prison staff retaliated against him after he didn't participate.  Without any real content, the interviewer has crafted a dark and conspiratorial piece.  Perhaps that's what plays in Pskov.  

Despite the interviewer's lack of hope for Paul, you can see Paul's straightforward gaze.  And  in the months since this video was captured in May, Paul has remained aware that his cause is not forgotten, that his freedom remains a priority for the White House.  We see this in response to media questions [Fox News, 8/23] as well as from the State Department directly, as with Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield's recent Tweet.  Paul experiences it in extraordinary status updates from people like Secretary of State Blinken.

We wish we could see Paul under better circumstances.  But it was good to see him again and to see the fight remains in his eyes.  It is good to know Paul remains unbowed.