Lawyers say Paul Whelan, American national jailed in Russia, hasn’t been heard from in a month
American national Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia on espionage charges, hasn’t been in touch with his family or the U.S. Embassy in more than four weeks, his lawyer Olga Karlova told Interfax.
Karlova said that she reached out to the administration of Prison Colony No. 17 (located in Russia’s Republic of Mordovia) to inquire about Whelan, but received no response. The lawyer had hoped to find out what was happening with Whelan and ask if she could speak to him over the phone. On August 3, the lawyer sent a complaint to Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) Director Alexander Kalashnikov accusing the prison’s staff of negligence.
Earlier, on July 29, another lawyer representing Whelan’s interests told Interfax that staff at the prison claimed that the American national had been placed in a “punitive isolation cell.” Whelan’s brother David said that according to information from the U.S. embassy, Paul was put in solitary confinement for 15 days, and then for another 15 days after that.
Paul Whelan’s lawyers plan to file a petition with the Moscow City Court seeking his deportation from Russia to serve his sentence in the United States. “I think that even if we fail to speak [with Whelan] we will file the petition. In general, Paul gave us full powers and he understood what this is about,” Karlova said.
Russian police arrested Paul Whelan in December 2018, claiming to have apprehended him in possession of classified intelligence. A Moscow court sentenced him to 16 years in a maximum security prison for espionage in June 2020. Whelan maintains his innocence, but hasn’t appealed his sentence in the hopes that he might be swapped for either arms dealer Viktor “Lord of War” Bout or pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who are currently imprisoned in the United States.