Day 453 - Paul Whelan - Lefortovo Prison Moscow - March 25, 2020 - Visit by Three Ambassadors

Three Ambassadors to the Russian Federation attended Moscow City Court on Monday [3/23/2020] in an unprecedented show of support for Paul Whelan.  U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan remarked afterward that they had been allowed by the presiding judge to speak with Paul.  Ambassador Sullivan hoped that "we see a fair and transparent judicial process" and that he counted on media "to help ensure that Paul Whelan is afforded a fair judicial trial."  Ambassador Sullivan was joined on the visit by UK Ambassador Deborah Bronnert and Irish Ambassador Brian McElduff.  We are grateful to the Ambassadors for taking this extraordinary step for Paul.
[Statement by Ambassador John Sullivan: ]
Unsurprisingly, no trial began.  Instead, Paul's detention was extended in the familiar pattern of the last 15 months.  The Russian court extended Paul's detention to September 13, 2020, so perhaps it hopes to have held a trial by then.  The court has scheduled the next hearing for March 30 but, in light of the global pandemic, Paul's lawyers aren't sure that will occur.  We appreciate the court's allowing the Ambassadors to speak with Paul.  Perhaps judicial oversight can correct the ongoing unlawful abuses Paul is suffering at the hands of the FSB.
[Extension of detention, court scheduling: ]
As Paul heads into this next phase of his wrongful imprisonment, we are grateful for the public support he has received.  The visit of the Ambassadors must have been a huge boost to his morale.  Recent remarks by the House Foreign Affairs Committee and U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul and Haley Stevens underscore the ongoing concern about Paul's mistreatment by the Russian authorities.  Paul's family couldn't have said it any better than the House Foreign Affairs Committee:
"Paul Whelan's trial ... is already full of FSB-concocted lies.  The Russian Government must put an end to this nonsense and let Paul return home."
Since the Russian authorities have continued to refuse Paul the opportunity to use a telephone, pandemic restrictions have eliminated our ability to communicate with him outside of letters.  As his isolation grows, we are hopeful that media in Russia will continue to ensure his case is exposed to sunlight. I will continue to update you when we learn more about his ongoing coercive detention.