Day 628 - Paul Whelan - IK-17 Mordovia Russia - Sept 16, 2020 - Paul Whelan allegedly moved to Mordovia

Paul was finally able to phone from IK-17, the labor camp the Russian Federation has sent him to as they prolong his wrongful detention. He spoke for about 15 minutes with Canadian Embassy staff yesterday [9/15]. We continue to be grateful for their efforts, and those of the other consular staff at the other embassies, at seeking meetings and contact with Paul. This call only happened because of regular, persistent requests by the Canadian Embassy for contact. Our thanks also to the camp head [chief? warden?], Vladimir Denisov, whose staff were very helpful in making the call happen, according to Paul.

[We believe this is the 5th or 6th phone call Paul has been allowed since his wrongful detention began 628 days ago. He has spoken to our parents twice, as well as once with the US Embassy immediately following his surgery and again after his trial. No calls were made before April 2020]

Paul indicated that the other prisoners are mostly non-Russians and non-English speakers. His work at the camp will consist of making hats and coats. Now that he is out of isolation, Paul indicated he was hoping to be able to make more regular phone calls. Other prisoners apparently can call weekly and we hope Paul will have the same treatment. Paul also indicated that he felt healthy.

I was struck by one comment Paul made, which is that, at his sentencing, the judge had indicated that negotiations were underway for his release. This has been such a consistent refrain since Paul was falsely accused of being a spy. The FSB apparently suggested this as soon as he was arrested. His lawyers and other Russian officials have said the same to Russian media. It is as if Paul was sick, and Russian bureaucrats are telling him they hoped he would feel better soon, even though they can't provide him any relief but their wishes.

We hope that Paul is released soon but it will require more than wishing it. We continue to look to Secretary of State Pompeo and Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA) Ambassador Carstens to make progress in ending Paul's ongoing wrongful detention. Paul has been a hostage of the Russian Federation for 20 1/2 months and he deserves to be freed and sent home.