Brother says Paul Whelan abused by guard, moved to dirtier cell in Russian prison

Paul Whelan imprisoned for last 8 months on espionage accusations

Paul Whelan
Paul Whelan

NOVI, Mich. – Paul Whelan, a Novi man who has been in a Russian prison for eight months on accusations of being a spy, has been abused by at least one guard and moved to a dirtier cell, according to his brother.

Whelan was arrested in late December in Moscow on charges of espionage. His family says he's innocent and that Russian officials have made it difficult to contact him or ensure fair treatment.

His brother, David Whelan, said his brother will likely spend at least four more months in prison.

During a gap between a U.S. consular visit Aug. 1 and a Canadian consular visit Aug. 22, Paul Whelan was injured, according to his brother. The Aug. 9 incident left him immobilized for four days, David Whelan said.

Paul Whelan said prison officials are retaliating against him after he made human rights complaints about his treatment inside Lefortovo.

"He has seen a noticeable drop in prison staff professionalism since he did so," David Whelan said.

When Paul Whelan used an emergency notification system in the prison to declare an injury, it took nearly an hour for a guard to respond, according to his brother.

David Whelan said one guard is "sufficiently aggressive" now that his brother has voiced concerns about physical abuse.

Paul Whelan and his cellmate were also moved to a dirtier cell that was in disrepair, his brother said.

A Russian judge extended Paul Whelan's detention for the fourth time, ensuring he will be in Lefortovo for another two months. The judge also granted an investigator four more months to look into the allegations.

Paul Whelan's lawyer suggested an indictment could come in the next two weeks, but his imprisonment is unlikely to end before the new year, David Whelan said.

"Paul told Canadian consular staff that he continues to be interrogated," David Whelan said. "His lawyers are having difficulty accessing the prison, so he does not have access to legal counsel. Paul was not even aware he'd have his detention hearing Friday until he was taken to it."

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