Blinken Speaks to Former American Marine Imprisoned in Russia

The former US Marine Russia convicted of espionage in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years behind bars had a frank conversation on the phone on Wednesday with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Paul Whelan’s brother David has confirmed the conversation between Blinken and Paul, which Washington considers “wrongfully detained” – suggesting the charges were politically driven – and whose release it is trying to negotiate with Moscow.

The State Department hasn’t issued any official statements yet about the call between the state secretary and Whelan, which was arrested in December 2018 after he accepted a flash drive from a Russian Federal Security Service’s (FSB) undercover officer and was found guilty of espionage in June 2020.

Whelan has been imprisoned at the prison colony in Mordovia.

According to a source familiar with the call, however, Whelan was told that the US is doing everything it can to bring him home as soon as possible and was asked to keep the faith.

Previously in May, Whelan was visited in prison by Ambassador Lynne Tracy, which later emphasized that his release is “an absolute priority” for Washington which is allegedly reaching out to US allies holding alleged Russian spies in order to set up an exchange for Whelan and is also considering narrow sanctions relief.

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