(WatchDogReport.org) – US President Joe Biden recently met with the sister of Paul Whelan — a former United States Marine who was imprisoned in Russia back in 2018. While Russian authorities accused him of spying on behalf of the United States, Whelan has vehemently denied the accusations.
During a private meeting with Elizabeth Whelan, the US commander-in-chief discussed his administration’s efforts to secure her brother’s release from the Eurasian nation. In a statement, the White House said that Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser, was also part of the meeting, noting that President Biden will always push for the liberation of Americans who have been wrongfully detained overseas. The White House pointed out that the Democratic leader called Whelan’s parents after the meeting with Elizabeth.
In 2020, a Russian court sentenced Whelan to 16 years in prison. Following the sentence, the Biden administration said that his detention was “unlawful,” claiming that the Russian court process and allegations against the former Marine were a “sham.”
Over the last few months, Biden administration officials have said that securing his release, along with Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich, is one of the president’s main priorities. Similar to Whelan’s case, the newspaper’s journalist was detained in the Russian city of Ekaterinburg by Russia’s FSB agents in March 2023. Gershkovich was also accused of spying on behalf of the United States, which he and the Wall Street Journal have consistently denied.
The White House was unable to secure the release of Whelan in 2022, as part of a prisoner swap that liberated basketball female player Brittney Griner from a Russian prison in exchange for the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Different reports pointed out that the Biden administration believes that the Kremlin is holding Whelan and Gershkovich release to a higher bar than the sporting star because of the spying charges that Russian courts imposed against them.
During a conversation with CNN from his prison cell in December 2023, Whelan called on the White House to use all resources to secure his release.
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