Metro Detroit native pleads for help in surprise phone call from Russian prison camp

Paul Whelan convicted of espionage in Russia

Paul Whelan pleads for help in shocking phone call with CNN reporter.
Paul Whelan pleads for help in shocking phone call with CNN reporter.

NOVI, Mich. – Paul Whelan is still in a Russian prison, but he was able to make a call to a CNN reporter, in which he begged for help to secure his freedom.

Russian prison camps are considered among the world’s most restrictive and desolate places on the planet. Since Whelan’s arrest, he has figure out ways to get around Russian security.

READ: ‘Welcome news’: Paul Whelan’s family responds to declaration against arbitrary detention

“Decisive action is needed immediately,” said Whelan. “The abduction of an American Citizen cannot stand anywhere in the world.”

Whelan, convicted of espionage, is serving a 16 year sentence in a Mordovian prison camp. He was arrested in Russia when he went to attend a wedding in December 2018. Russian security agents claimed he had possession of Zip drive with Russian agent information on it.

He somehow reached a CNN correspondent before President Joe Biden is expected to meet President Vladmir Putin in Vienna.

READ: Michigan family hopeful Biden can help free Paul Whelan from Russian prison

“I would ask President Biden to aggressively discuss and resolve this issue with his Russian counterparts,” Whelan said.

Paul Whelan’s twin brother, David Whelan, said these words aren’t new as Paul regularly calls his parents in Manchester, Michigan.

“Things -- like his ability to record an interview with a reporter and understand there may be repercussions when that gets published to him in the labor camp -- shows he’s still fighting against this injustice,” David Whelan said.

The entire Whelan family is unified in calling Paul Whelan’s trial a sham.

“He’s still quite angry about it,” David Whelan said. “I think he is frustrated. He has been sitting there for two and a half years and the U.S., the Canadian, U.K. governments -- he’s a citizen of all those nations, they have not been able to do anything about his situation.”

David Whelan said he is concerned that his brother put himself in danger making the call and have told his parents in December that guards were writing him up for small infractions.

David Whelan hopes solitary confinement is not part of the punishment but worries that it could be.

Whelan remains in custody in Mordovia, roughly 250 miles southeast of Moscow.

READ: Michigan family expects Paul Whelan to remain behind bars in Russia for at least another year


About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.