Day 1841 - Paul Whelan - IK-17 Mordovia Russia - January 12, 2024 - President Biden meeting

Paul Whelan has been a Russian hostage for 1,841 days.  I have not yet heard but I'm confident he was pleased to hear that President Biden had been able to meet with our sister, Elizabeth [1/10/2024].  President Biden's kindness in also calling our parents will, I'm sure, be communicated in their regular phone calls to Paul.  You could have knocked them over with a feather and they were touched by the thoughtfulness and consideration the President showed. We are all grateful to President Biden for taking the time to talk about Paul's case with Elizabeth.  Or in her words:

"I was honored and grateful for the opportunity to meet with President Biden to discuss the current state of efforts to bring my brother Paul Whelan home. Paul has been wrongful detained in Russia for over five years, and my recent focus has been to encourage shortening the timeline, improving the process, and increasing the momentum in the response to hostage-taking across the board, and for my brother Paul in particular.

I left the meeting reassured that the commitment and the work on Paul’s behalf has not flagged, regardless of Russia’s recent rejection in 2023 of yet another substantive offer made by the US. And I am deeply appreciative of this administration’s engagement with our family and support for Paul through his ordeal."

As I've shared with some of you who've contacted us, that's the entirety of what Elizabeth has to share about the meeting.  But you can understand that a closed meeting is, well, closed.

Paul had been out of contact for over a week, which caused some concern. But we were reassured by the U.S. and U.K. Embassy staff, who spoke to the labor camp staff who claimed it was typical Russian infrastructure, not typical Russian human rights abuses, at work.

When Paul spoke again to our parents a few days ago, he rubbished the idea that the phones had not been working "because of a hard frost."  The prison administration appears to be cracking down on phone calls with all prisoners, many of whom were prohibited from calling family during the Russian holidays.  But we are glad to once again have regular contact with Paul.  We have not heard anything from the two requests for investigation we filed with the Mordovian prosecutor relating to the assault on Paul and the deputy warden's retaliation.  If I hear anything, I'll pass it along.

I have been asked frequently what more the U.S. government could be doing. In the lengthy inventory of things they are doing and have done, a call from a President is a remarkable one, a balm for a family going through this ordeal.  We hope that their many other efforts will lead to Paul being home and bringing the ordeal to an end.