WASHINGTON: American national imprisoned in Russia appealed to President Joe Biden to “aggressively discuss and resolve” the issue of United States citizens being detained for political purposes, in meeting with President Vladimir Putin on June 16.
“Decisive action is needed immediately” to stop the “abduction” of US citizens, Paul Whelan said in an exclusive phone interview from the Russian labour camp where he is serving out a 16-year sentence for an espionage charge he vehemently denies, reported CNN.
“This is not an issue of Russia against me; it’s an issue of Russia against the United States, and the United States needs to answer this hostage diplomacy situation and resolve it as quickly as possible,” he said.
Whelan also expressed that he has “a positive feeling” about the forthcoming meeting between the US and Russian leaders, calling it “a good step in the right direction.”
“I know that President Biden and Secretary (of State) Antony Blinken are working towards my release and return home,” he said.
Blinken raised Whelan’s case, as well as that of US detainee Trevor Reed, in his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in late May. Biden and Putin are expected to “discuss the full range of pressing issues” when they meet in Geneva, Switzerland, the White House said, including arms control, Ukraine and human rights abuses.
Whelan — who is also an Irish, British and Canadian citizen — was detained at a Moscow hotel in December 2018 by Russian authorities who alleged he was involved in an intelligence operation. US officials have condemned his sentencing and he again denied the charges during his interview. (ANI)