Day 80 - Paul Whelan - Lefortovo Prison Moscow - Update March 18, 2019 - call with DAS King

Last Friday, Paul had been held 10 weeks [Day 77] in Lefortovo prison.  Our family spoke with Deputy Assistant Secretary for Overseas Citizen Services Karin King in the highest level phone call family members have had with State Department staff.  We are encouraged about what the State Department - both inside and outside consular services - is monitoring about Paul's situation.  More importantly, we were reassured that, as decision points are reached, State has identified next steps.
 
This is important because U.S. Embassy staff continue to be obstructed by the Russian authorities.  Paul's Privacy Act Waiver was mailed, according to the FSB investigator, but inexplicably hasn't arrived at the US Embassy.  When Paul mentioned during the US consular visit on Friday [March 15, 2019] that he was being interrogated without his lawyer present, the FSB officer warned Embassy staff that discussions about the arrest were prohibited.  
 
And Paul's isolation continues because, according to his lawyers, the FSB's lack of evidence means they need to coerce a confession:
  • no mail has reached Paul or reached anyone from Paul
  • no phone calls
  • English-language books, to help reduce this sense of isolation, have not reached him, even though they were sent from a Moscow book store and the Russian Post shows they were delivered 3 weeks ago.  It's not Russian Post that appears to have a credibility problem.
  • process documents like his Privacy Act Waiver and Power of Attorney continue to be blocked
We are concerned that he has been interrogated - without the presence of his lawyers or his translator - on multiple times since his arrest.  This psychological stress on Paul will continue until U.S. government pressure is brought to bear on those responsible.
 
Our call with Deputy Assistant Secretary King gives us confidence that pressure may be waiting in the wings.  Statements from Senate Foreign Relations Committee members, including ranking member Sen. Bob Menendez and Sens. Marco Rubio, and Jeanne Shaheen signal a growing awareness about Paul's detention.  Chairman Eliot Engel's statement on behalf of the House Foreign Relations Committee and leadership from Michigan's House Reps. Haley Stevens, of Paul's home district, and Andy Levin show the concern in both houses on Capitol Hill.
 
Additionally, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has been expressing more specific concern about why, after over 2 months, the Russian authorities haven't shared any facts about Paul's case:
 
 
Paul's fact pattern - offered by his lawyers in Paul's defense and suggesting Paul thought a friend of 10 years was giving him some photos from his home town, the historic Sergiev Posad [Zagorsk] - is the only one we've learned about.  And the FSB have failed to contradict it, according to Paul's lawyers.
 
Paul's inexplicable detention will continue while the Russian authorities attempt to assemble those facts.  But we're more confident now that U.S. government patience is not unlimited.
Thanks for your continued concern about Paul's situation.
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