Paul Whelan has been held hostage by the Russian government for nearly 45 months. He waits in a labor colony for the Russian government to decide if they will accept the concession offered by the US government for his release. Paul is still able to speak with our parents daily by telephone. He informed them that, Friday (9/16), he was being transferred back to the prison hospital at IK-21. Paul did not request the medical attention nor knows what attention he will be receiving.
Paul will be happy to learn about our sister, Elizabeth, being able to meet with President Biden at the White House on Friday. [9/16] Like all of our family, I am sure he will be reassured that his freedom, and the freedom of all Americans wrongfully detained by Russia, remains a priority for the US government. Here is a statement from Elizabeth about the meeting:
It was an exceptional honor to meet with President Biden on Friday to receive an update on the efforts the US government is making towards obtaining my brother Paul Whelan's freedom from wrongful detention in Russia.
I am grateful for the continual outreach and info-sharing from the White House, National Security Council, Department of State, and the office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. Together with members of Congress, we will continue to fight for my brother Paul and all other Americans wrongfully detained.
Hostage-diplomacy is a national security as well as a humanitarian issue; when hostile foreign nations take Americans and hold them as pawns, we must work together with vigor to reunite those wrongfully detained with their families, and deter these countries from continuing this malign practice.
I have complete faith that the Biden administration is fully engaged and using the tools at their disposal. Now we need Russia to also engage in good faith, and free Paul Whelan.
-- Elizabeth Whelan
As you might expect, details about the meeting will need to remain confidential while Paul's case is active.
Elizabeth had already intended to be in Washington D.C. so the meeting with the President was an incredible opportunity to continue to advocate for Paul's freedom. She participated in a panel discussion by the Congressional Task Force on hostage and wrongful detainee issues led by Reps. Ted Deutch and French Hill. [9/15]
The panel, at the Rayburn Office Building, included Jason Rezaian (journalist and former hostage), Diane Foley (James W. Foley Legacy Foundation), Sarah (Levinson) Moriarty (daughter of deceased hostage Robert Levinson), Neda Shargi (sister of Emad, current wrongful detainee), Nizar Zakka (former hostage) and Anaise Kanimba (her father is Paul Rusesabagina, also wrongfully detained). A number of other members spoke, including Rep. Haley Stevens, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. This continued attention to the many Americans held hostage will hopefully lead to more of them being freed.