Day 650 - Paul Whelan - IK-17 Mordovia Russia - October 8, 2020 - Hostage Diplomacy

Paul has been held hostage by the Russian Federation for 650 days [10/08/2020]. We were grateful to learn that the UK consular staff were able to visit him at Camp IK-17 in Mordovia a week ago Tuesday [09/29/2020]. It is exceptional that they, and U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan and his staff the previous week, have made the 500km trek from Moscow to see Paul. It means the world to him. As the winter weather settles over Mordovia, these sorts of in-person visits will be harder to accomplish.

The UK consular staff found Paul in much the same condition as Ambassador Sullivan. Paul is adapting to his new prison and work schedule. He has started to make phone calls and has spoken with our parents twice since arriving at the prison in September. Paul has a call scheduled this evening with the Canadian consular staff and we hope that he will have more regular communication now. Mail is being processed more professionally than it was in Lefortovo and he is able to both send and receive mail without interference.

The embassy staff working with Paul are doing their part. But it takes government action to gain the freedom of citizens who are taken hostage in lieu of action. Canada's Defense Minister Harjit Singh spoke out against hostage diplomacy recently: "This type of hostage diplomacy is not what good rules-based-order nations do. So if you want to be part of the global rules-based order, we need to have greater predictability. And these are the types of things that go against the norm." Minister Singh was talking about China but the words apply equally to the Russian Federation. As Paul also nears his two-year detention anniversary, we hope there are more than words being used on his behalf.

I am sure everyone who has a family member or friend held hostage appreciates Minister Singh's words. But it takes action to free a hostage. It takes more than arguing about which politician has freed the most hostages, like some bizarre competition with detained individuals left in either the win or the loss column. It is not unreasonable for citizens to expect their representative government to represent them when they are wrongfully detained and held hostage by a foreign nation. We continue to wait for the US or other governments to engage with the Russian Federation to find a way to secure Paul's freedom.

[Defense Minister Harjit Singh: ]