Paul was falsely arrested 4 months ago. He has been wrongfully imprisoned for 129 days [as of 5/6/2019] in Lefortovo prison. Fortunately, the U.S. Embassy has continued to monitor his health and defend his legal rights under Russian and international law. Unfortunately, the Russian authorities continue to inhibit the U.S. Embassy as they have done with the other governments charged with Paul's care.
Ambassador Huntsman visited Paul on Tuesday, April 30. In the words of the U.S. Embassy's spokesperson, "Consular access without being able to speak openly is frankly a joke." [EN | RU] But, as the Washington Post noted this weekend, "the regular rules of diplomacy seem to carry little weight."
Russian authorities continue to create an environment designed to coerce Paul into a false confession. During this last consular visit, the US Embassy said this included "1) no reading aloud letters from family, 2) no signing a much-needed power of attorney, 3) no talking about anything that actually matters." [EN | RU] Paul indicated to the Ambassador that communication with his family is being made conditional on him providing the FSB with "information".
Unfortunately, Paul's recent notes to us through his lawyer suggest that the FSB concocted a caper and got the wrong American businessman. The FSB is likely to continue to try to attempt to coerce a false confession from Paul. He will have a detention hearing in late May [probably May 23 or 24, according to Judge Ryabtsev's docket] and is likely to remain in Lefortovo for another 2 to 3 months to enable continued FSB pressure.
The timing couldn't be worse. As his detention lengthens, he will be visited less frequently by those on whose help he relies. Consular visits from the UK, Canada, and Ireland are currently planned so that Paul will be seen once per country over the next 3 months. He is still unable to get letters from outside the prison. Paul recently received 3 of the letters US consular staff left at the prison on March 15.
We look forward to the continued oversight of Paul's wrongful detention by the U.S. government and their continued visits to Paul at Lefortovo. Their care, and leadership like that shown by Rep. Engel, Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee [5/1/2019 remarks] in speaking out about Paul's case gives us continued hope for a resolution.