American imprisoned in Russia calls CNN to demand release
US negotiators were unable to secure Whelan’s release at the same time as Griner’s – similar to the case of a former US Marine, Trevor Reed, who was traded in April 2022 in another exchange a against one.
Whelan’s name has come up as the Biden administration tries to secure the release of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was arrested in March and charged with espionage. Whelan told CNN on Sunday that he fears he could be left behind in Russia again if a deal is brokered for Gershkovich.
“It is of extreme concern to me and my family,” he told CNN, adding, “I believe that my life should not be considered less precious or important than others that have already been traded. .”
He also told CNN that prisoners from his prison camp in the Mordovia region were recruited to fight in Ukraine and that international sanctions were impacting the quality and quantity of what was provided to prisoners.
Elizabeth Whelan, her sister, complained in February that lawmakers who mentioned her brother about Griner apparently lost interest after Griner was released.
“We haven’t heard of any of them,” she said in February. “No one called.”
But on May 4, Lynne M. Tracy, the US ambassador to Russia, visited Whalen in prison.
“Paul has been unjustly detained in Russia for more than four years, and his release remains a top priority,” the official said. United States Embassy in Moscow tweeted.
Whelan was arrested in Russia in December 2018 for espionage and sentenced to 16 years in prison in June 2020. His family and the US government allege that Whelan, a former Marine employed as a corporate security officer for BorgWarner, was unfairly accused and convicted. .
CNN said Sunday night it was the third time Whelan has called reporter Jennifer Hansler.