Day 200 - Paul Whelan - Lefortovo Prison Moscow - Update July 1 - Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov's comments

On July 16, 2019, Paul Whelan will have spent 200 days in Russian prison. It's hard to imagine that an innocent American tourist can be held for so long without any show of evidence or substantiation of the unbelievable charges against him.  His family continues to work for his freedom.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov's statements at the start of the last week touched on Paul's freedom. []  His suggestion of trade possibilities - for Russians in American jails, for a return of diplomatic properties seized by the Obama administration in 2016 [ ]- showed that Paul's case is percolating at higher levels in the Russian government.  Though he later hedged on his comments about Paul [] - repeating his position from January that any decision will have to wait until Paul's inevitable sentencing [] - it was a clear indication from Russia authorities that Paul is being held for political reasons, to extract something from the U.S. government.

Paul continues to be monitored by consular staff.  The UK Consul General Colin Wells and his staff saw Paul on July 4th.  U.S. Embassy staff saw Paul June 27 and have been granted  a visit on July 11 by the Russian Foreign Ministry.  Consular officials continue to raise concerns about Paul's medical care and the rejection by the Russian Foreign Ministry of a request to see an external doctor or to verify assertions that Paul's health is being managed.  [ | ]  The Russian Foreign Ministry has denied receiving a request to see Paul's prison medical records [ ] and the prison authority has denied Paul has unaddressed medical issues. [ | ]  This is exactly the sort of uncertainty about Paul's predicament that concerns us.  The FSB investigator's continued interference with Paul's ability to communicate - with consular officials, with his family - makes it difficult to be certain what the truth of the situation is.

Paul's sister, Elizabeth, will return to Washington D.C. this week to continue to lobby for Congressional action and Department of State engagement in Paul's case. David Whelan will join her for a few days to help press the unfairness of Paul's continued wrongful detention.  We will continue to seek his freedom and return to his family.