David Whelan's update to media, with a personal message:
Paul Whelan's trial will end on Monday, June 15, as far as we know. The prosecution has asked that he be sentenced to 18 years in a labor camp. By 1pm, Paul should know his fate.
I have spoken with some of you as this milestone approaches. I am grateful for your concern about our family and how we must feel as Paul's sentencing nears. But it is a very Western lens to see Paul's peril through. If Paul were being tried in Washington - or Dublin, London, or Ottawa - then I might have some anxiety about the outcome. A conviction would reflect evidence of guilt, a sentence would reflect the severity of Paul's actions.
But this is Russia. A conviction merely reflects that the defendant did not confess. And the sentence, whatever it may be, says more about the legal system than it does about the defendant's actions. Paul has already been given an indeterminate sentence and has served nearly a year and a half of it. The outcome on Monday will merely cap how long this injustice will continue. But it will not be based on facts or justice. And we will not stop our advocacy for his freedom unless he is, in fact, freed.
Paul is lucky to get a trial. Karina Tsurkan, another prisoner in Lefortovo accused of spying, has just had her detention extended past the 2 year mark, with no evidence and no trial. When a conviction is a foregone conclusion, it is a blessing in Russia that it arrives as soon as possible.
We are grateful for the recent statements by Secretary of State Pompeo and the White House National Security Council urging Paul's release, and for Senator Markey's support for our family. As the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said frequently, they only discuss the release of prisoners in cases where the person has been convicted. We hope that the U.S. government and the Russian Federation will begin discussing Paul's release immediately, now that there will no longer be any procedural impediments.
Our family, Paul's friends, and those who support Paul out of a sense of justice and fairness will continue to advocate for Paul's release. We are looking forward to the resumption of consular access so that we can know how Paul is doing. The Canadian Embassy has asked for a phone call today (6/11/2020) and that would be the first time since his emergency operation that anyone has spoken with him. As Moscow lifts its pandemic lockdown, we are hoping the Embassy visits will resume, and that they will again be allowed to provide supplemental food so that Paul can remain healthy. He will need his health so that he can prepare, with his lawyers, for what comes next.
[Tweets from Sec. Pompeo, the White House NSC: https://twitter.com/SecPompeo/status/1266737077246480384 ; https://twitter.com/WHNSC/status/1267473267239129089 ]
[Tweet from Senator Ed Markey: https://twitter.com/SenMarkey/status/1269002506912387072 ]
[Sec. of State Pompeo's press availability 6/10/2020: https://www.state.gov/secretary-michael-r-pompeo-at-a-press-availability-on-the-release-of-the-2019-international-religious-freedom-report/ ]