Day 350 - Paul Whelan - Lefortovo Prison Moscow - December 12, 2019 -Russian Corruption, American Defiance

Secretary of State Pompeo and Russian Federation Foreign Minister Lavrov met at the White House on Tuesday [12/10/2019].  We were pleased to see that Secretary Pompeo indicated that Paul had been brought up during the meeting.  Even more enlightening was when Minister Lavrov responded to a question from a reporter about Paul.
 
We were not at all surprised that Minister Lavrov repeated the false statements that the Ministry aired on its web site on December 3.  The US Embassy staff in Moscow had already refuted these on Twitter.  Incredibly, Minister Lavrov's comments added a new allegation, that Paul had threatened prison staff with a drill press the prison uses as a hole punch for paper.  As Paul's lawyer says, it's clearly false.  We can only assume that the FSB source for this information couldn't come up with a more creative fiction.
 
MFA Statement: https://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/3930182
US Embassy Moscow refutes:  https://twitter.com/USEmbRuPress/status/1201911543019057152
Minister Lavrov's answer (video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySXLdjWiCOA
MFA's photo of the drill press and Mr. Zherebenkov's quote :  https://m.facebook.com/MIDRussia/photos/a.265191980246917/2149974168435346/
Zherebenkov response:  https://tass.com/politics/1098185 
Zherebenkov tweet: https://twitter.com/Jerebenkov/status/1204726865707057152 
 
Unfortunately, Secretary Pompeo did not defend Paul.  There was no attempt to rebut these allegations during the press conference, even though State Department staff at the Embassy had done so the previous week.  It is frustrating to see the Russian government able to make false statements about our brother, in the White House, and have no-one in the American government display the courage to defend the truth.
 
The Russian media reported that Paul was defiant.  Our family is glad that that is how his continued fight against injustice is perceived by the Russian government.  Ongoing attempts to get Paul to plead guilty and outlandish stories about drills only show how desperate the FSB is becoming in the face of this defiance.
 
We do not have an update on Paul's current condition, neither his rights nor health.  His lawyers are being allowed one three-hour visit a week to see Paul.  This time is spent without a translator or interpreter, just his lawyer reading the evidence out to Paul in front of an FSB overseer.  We continue to expect Paul's detention to be extended and a trial held in the summer of 2020.