Day 1634 - Paul Whelan - IK-17 Mordovia Russia - June 13, 2023 - Congress Acts, Retaliation Continues

We cannot express enough our deep appreciation to Rep. Hayley Stevens and members of the House of Representatives for their advocacy on Paul's behalf.  Rep. Stevens introduced House Resolution 272 calling for Paul to be released, co-sponsored by 44 other Members of Congress.  As Rep. Michael McCaul opened in Congress yesterday [6/12/2023]:

On May 16, Paul reached his 1,600th day of illegally being held hostage in the Russian Federation for a crime he did not commit. See, Mr. Speaker, Paul is innocent....This resolution shows we have not forgotten and we will not forget Paul and we will keep advocating for his immediate release....I strongly urge my colleagues to support this Resolution so Paul and his family know that the United States Congress stands with them, with one voice, Republican and Democrat, Chairman and Ranking Member, and will do everything in our power to make sure that Paul is returned safely to his home and to his family.

Ranking Member Meeks noted that this is the 3d resolution Rep. Stevens has introduced since Paul was taken hostage by the Kremlin in December 2018 (117 H.Res. 336116 H.Res 552 ).  We are so grateful to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair McCaul and Ranking Member Meeks, and Rep. Stevens and Rep. French Hill for making such clear and unwavering statements of support for Paul and seeking his freedom. [Full statements: video and text]  We look forward to the House passing the Resolution.

The IK-17 prison staff are interfering with Paul calling home and US Embassy staff.  [Details: He was prohibited calls May 31-June 3, then allowed calls June 4-5, and then denied calls until June 8, and it's been sporadic since].  Prison staff are requiring him to make a request every day and it has to be approved each day.  Some days there is "no one" available to approve the requests.  Paul is required to make all calls from the Administration building, even though there is a phone in the barracks that other prisoners use for calls within Russia.  Paul spoke with a Deputy Warden on June 7 or 8 and he confirmed that Paul could call the US Embassy and our parents but it has not made calls more consistent.

A few weeks back, after the Canadian Embassy staff visited, prison staff had represented to Paul he could call "any time" since Embassy staff are not always available at the 8pm-9pm calling time.  But that appears to no longer be possible.

The Prosecutor from Mordovia has visited IK-17 and was expected to visit again with a translator.  Paul told our parents that many prisoners—he thinks it was more than 100—have filed complaints.  Other prisoners' belongings have been damaged, including personal religious items (Qurans, prayer mats and shawls), in the same manner as the Deputy Warden trampled Paul's belongings.  Paul said the head prosecutor and assistant prosecutor both visited the prison and toured it [6/1/2023].  Paul said he has not heard from the lawyers who represented him at trial for 2 years or more.

We appreciate the Prosecutor of Mordovia's office looking into the prison staff violating regulations.  Hopefully we will see the Warden and his deputies resume following Russian law.  Unfortunately, whether they do or do not, Paul will continue to suffer the injustice of being a Russian hostage.  We appreciate Congress' sustained support and advocacy, showing the Kremlin that there is unwavering support for Paul's freedom.