International

American held in Russian prison released from solitary confinement

Getty Images

Paul Whelan, the U.S. Marine veteran being held in Russia on espionage charges, has been released from solitary confinement, CNN reported on Sunday.

Whelan reportedly spoke with his parents and his brother, David Whelan, upon his release from solitary confinement on either Thursday or Friday. During his monthlong stint in the disciplinary cell, Paul Whelan wasn’t permitted to make contact with his lawyer, Olga Karlova, or the U.S. Embassy, according to the outlet.

“He seems to have survived solitary confinement none the worse for wear, but he was wary on the phone,” David Whelan told CNN.
 
David Whelan previously said his brother was placed in the punishment cell for “having food in his bag” upon returning from a medical facility, where he received treatment for a cough and bursitis in his elbow, according to The Detroit News.
 
A State Department spokesperson confirmed to CNN that they “are aware of reports that authorities have released Paul from isolated detention.” The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said the “Russian government has not responded to our repeated requests for updates,” however, and embassy spokesperson Jason Rebholz is pushing the Russian Foreign Ministry “to honor its obligations & respond to our requests for information,” CNN reports.
 
Whelan, who was arrested in 2018 while attending a wedding, where he was reportedly handed a flash drive of information without his knowledge, was sentenced to 16 years in prison by a Moscow court last June. 
 
Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted the conviction and called for Whelan’s release.
 
“We have serious concerns that Mr. Whelan was deprived of the fair trial guarantees that Russia is required to provide him in accordance with its international human rights obligations,” he previously said.
Tags David Whelan Mike Pompeo Paul Whelan Paul Whelan Russia Solitary confinement US Embassy in Moscow Whelan
See all Hill.TV See all Video