Day 761 - Paul Whelan - IK-17 Mordovia Russia - January 26, 2021 - A New Hope

Our family is grateful to the journalist who asked about Paul at yesterday's White House press briefing. It is thanks to your continued attention to Paul's wrongful detention in Russia that we are able to advocate for him in other spheres. I realize that the paucity of White House briefing opportunities has made it harder for you, and so it means a lot to us that someone took one of those precious opportunities to ask about Paul. Hopefully there will be many more opportunities in the future to raise awareness about the dozens of Americans being held hostage around the globe.

We also take as a good sign that the Biden Administration seems to be more ready to engage with the Russian Federation than the Trump Administration had been. The early statements about continuing the New START treaty are a good example. I think Paul hoped that the Trump Administration would be able to secure his release. But it has been clear, over the 2 years that Paul has been wrongfully detained, that the Trump White House was disinterested in its relationship with the Russian Federation. Press Secretary Psaki suggests there will be a different approach now, and we welcome it.

The prison's approach has not changed, which is unfortunate. Paul continues to be woken up throughout the night. He has told our parents, on phone calls, that guards have been finding pretexts such as petty prison uniform violations. Of course, the prison regulations are not translated so Paul's not clear what he's done wrong. It is hard to discern whether this is standard prison abuse or an attempt to build a foundation for more significant punishment, like solitary confinement. Time will tell and, unfortunately, Paul has many more years in prison unless the US government can secure his freedom.

Today, we hope to see Antony Blinken confirmed as Secretary of State. The sooner the State Department's leadership is in place, the sooner it can re-engage with the Russian Federation. We're grateful to members of Congress for moving these appointments along.

President Biden has said that he will be a President for all Americans. The US has not had a president with that viewpoint for the entirety of Paul's wrongful detention. I am hopeful that, once again, the American government will care about the welfare of all Americans in peril.

[Press Briefing: ]
[Blinken Appointment: ]