We are overwhelmed by Trevor Reed's kindness to speak out about Paul's case and the urgency with which the US government needs to move to bring Paul home. And we are incredibly grateful to all of you for continuing to report on Paul's case. If we are to respond to the State Department's request to "make noise", you are our only amplifier.
The stories Trevor related echo so much of what Paul has told us in letters and phone calls. As our mum said: "It was interesting to hear Trevor describing things [Paul has mentioned], like the whole fish for dinner!" Russia's prisoners from any nation are kept in the same horrible conditions. Every day this injustice continues is another day Paul has to suffer and to continue to focus on his survival in a place, a nation, that has no interest in whether any individual survives or not.
Paul was grateful for Trevor's support too. We were able to ask Paul to share a statement with us, through a phone call to our parents. Elizabeth and I were in Washington and able to do some interviews and share some of the statement. Here is Paul's full statement:
" ‘Hostage diplomacy’ is the only explanation for my forty-plus months detention by the Russians. I did not commit espionage, nor am I an agent, secret or otherwise, for the Defense Intelligence Agency … forget the nonsense about being a General. This preposterous story demonstrates how desperate Russia has become in matters of foreign affairs.
Russia’s prisons are Third World at best … we would not allow animals to live under the same conditions. Death by guards’ continuous corruption is ever-present, medical care non-existent … never mind rehabilitation for prisoners, many of whom are serving long draconian sentences for minor crimes. The sole purpose of these prison camps is slave labor. This is a disintegrating experience for mind, body and soul.
President Biden promised to bring me home, and I could really use the plane ticket the Ukrainian President turned down. I need the White House to take decisive action to secure my release – top level action – and there is no better time than the present.
My bags are packed, Mr. President! Thank you!" [Paul Whelan, May 21, 2022, in a phone call to our parents]
Paul has been a Russian hostage for 1,243 days, 41 months as of this coming Saturday. Paul continues his fight to survive in a hostile environment. We hope President Biden won't make him fight for too much longer.