Paul Whelan has been in Russian jail for 62 days today. During the past 2 months, the FSB investigator has failed to turn up any information to support the charges that he's a spy. Paul's defense team received some additional documentation from the investigator at Friday's [2/22] bail hearing. His defense lawyers say it doesn't contradict Paul's position that he was expecting photos to be on the USB. But the farce of a legal process continues.
The FSB investigator will be spending the next three months continuing to isolate Paul and, according to his defense lawyers, seems likely to pressure him to confess. The investigator is doing this by stopping Paul from communicating:
- no phone calls, even though other Lefortovo prisoners have phone access
- no personal letters are being given to Paul, whether sent by mail or hand-delivered by consular staff and given to prison officials (US and UK family has sent 100+ letters so far)
- no mail is being allowed from Paul, including his signed Privacy Act Waiver which still has not been sent to the U.S. Embassy
- no Power of Attorney, despite it being provided in parallel English and Russian translation
- no house arrest, despite a space being offered by Paul's lawyer and it being a frequent alternative to prison in Russia
- US consular officials are restricted in what and how they can communicate with Paul, meaning that he is unable to get full consular support
Every attempt at communicating with Paul is being hindered or outright blocked by the FSB investigator. We have encouraged Paul to stay strong and fight for his innocence, in messages we pass through his lawyers. But no American should be treated this way: wrongfully charged and in detention, while the Russian government has its way with the process without any response from the U.S. government.
It is time for the US government to act to protect Paul's rights and demand that the Russian government release Paul Whelan immediately.