Paul Whelan, an American wrongfully detained in Russia for nearly four years, was able to call his parents Wednesday for only the second time in nearly a month, his brother David Whelan said in a note to the media.
David Whelan said Paul was moved to a prison hospital on September 15 for an unknown reason – “he is still not sure why he is at the prison hospital and not at IK-17,” David Whelan wrote.
David Whelan said the family “will be watching the outcome of Brittney Griner’s appeal on October 25 and hoping for the unlikely reduction of sentence or release for time served.”
“Unless there is some decision that sees her released, it may mean her transfer to a labor colony for the execution of her sentence,” he said.
“This appeal does not seem to be impacting US and Russian government discussions about Paul and Brittney’s freedom so much as Russian government bad faith is,” David Whelan said.
The Biden administration has put forward what it describes as a “significant proposal” to Moscow to secure Griner and Whelan’s releases. CNN has learned that proposal includes a prisoner swap for convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout. US officials have said they have received little substantive response from Russia to the proposed deal.
President Joe Biden said Tuesday evening in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that while he has no intention to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit, he would do so to discuss the release of the detained WNBA star.
“It was good to see that President Biden continues to have their freedom top of mind, as he made clear during last night’s interview with Jake Tapper,” David Whelan said.
On Wednesday morning, Biden said he has not seen any movement on her release.
Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “when it comes to Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, I can’t speculate on what various court dates may or may not mean, what I can tell you is this, this has my full attention.”
“We as you know have been having an ongoing discussion with Russian authorities about this,” he said. “We put a substantial proposal on the table some months ago, and we urge Moscow to accept that proposal so we can resolve at least that issue, but our imperative is securing their release, and I don’t want to weigh in on the particulars of where we are, all I can tell you is we’re focused on it every day.”
In mid-September, Biden met separately with both Brittney Griner’s wife Cherelle Griner and Paul Whelan’s sister Elizabeth Whelan.