Paul Whelan continues to be held without evidence and without trial in Russia. This week - his 49th in prison - the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs asserted that it's Paul who is prolonging his stay in Lefortovo Prison and that his "spy" training is causing him to fake an illness. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has responded with facts to counter this disinformation campaign by Russian officials.
US Embassy tweet thread: https://twitter.com/
MFA statement: https://www.mid.ru/
ru/foreign_policy/news/-/ asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/ content/id/3930182
It isn't clear why the Russian authorities made these false assertions, since even Russian media has covered these issues, supported by statements made by Paul's lawyers. The MFA's attack follows recent news of Russian hacker Alexei Burkov's extradition and charges filed by the DOJ against Oleg Nikitin on December 3d. It also comes just before Secretary of State Pompeo and Foreign Minister Lavrov are expected to meet in Washington [12/10/2019]. Paul remains a pawn in Russia's attempt to extract concessions from the US. We appreciate Senator Menendez including Paul in his opening statement at the Senate Committee on Foreign Relation's hearing on U.S. policy towards Russia.
DOJ extradition of Burkov: https://www.justice.
gov/usao-edva/pr/russian- national-extradited-running- online-criminal-marketplace
DOJ indictment of Nikitin: https://www.justice.
gov/opa/pr/department-justice- announces-indictment-charging- russians-italians-and-others- attempting
Senator Menendez: https://www.
U.S. Embassy Charge d'Affaires Julie Fisher took Paul a holiday meal on the Embassy's visit Thanksgiving Day. Although the Embassy had received prior approval to bring the meal, it was rejected at the prison. The FSB continues its attempts to deprive Paul of any sense of normalcy and communication with the outside world.
US Embassy Thanksgiving dinner preview: https://twitter.com/
US CDA Fisher statement after visit: https://twitter.com/
The ongoing consular visits are Paul's only consistent method of ensuring facts about his situation are known. The US Embassy visit on Thanksgiving and the Irish Embassy visit the week before confirm that his situation is not improving. Paul's next detention hearing will come at Christmas time and his trial is unlikely to come before May 2020.