DETROIT – The only time Paul Whelan, of Novi, has been seen since his December arrest in Moscow was during his first court hearing, when he stood behind glass and struggled to hear what was happening.
Since then, his detention has been extended until at least May with no trial date set.
After 73 days in jail, Whelan got some good news Monday. He'll head back to a Russian courtroom Thursday for a judge to hear his appeal for bail.
Whelan wants house arrest and to walk away from Lefortovo, the infamous spy lockup.
"We expect the court will agree with the initial decision to enforce detention, since that is what the FSB requested," Whelan's brother said in a statement Monday. "Paul's detention, currently extended to May 28, but which can be extended repeatedly, is meant to isolate Paul."
But there's a glimmer of hope for the Whelan family, even though it took the Russian Foreign Ministry a couple of weeks to respond to a U.S. diplomatic request. There is a consular visit scheduled for Friday.
"It is disgraceful that the Russian government is keeping Mr. Whelan from hiring an attorney, working with U.S. consular officials and ensuring his family can take care of his affairs," said Rep. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "Russia's treatment of Mr. Whelan reflects a blatant disregard of international law. I call on Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation to release Mr. Whelan and end this gross abuse of his rights and Russia's international obligations."
In the diplomatic universe, those are exceptionally strong words, and it's evidence that the situation could be coming to a boil.