Congress to push for release of Novi man serving time in Russian work camp

Paul Whelan convicted of espionage in Russia

Pressure is building in Washington, D.C. to help Paul Whelan, the man from Novi who was sentenced in Russia on espionage charges.
Pressure is building in Washington, D.C. to help Paul Whelan, the man from Novi who was sentenced in Russia on espionage charges.

NOVI, Mich. – Pressure is building in Washington, D.C. to help Paul Whelan, the man from Novi who was sentenced in Russia on espionage charges.

Whelan remains in a Russian prison camp. His family hasn’t heard from him in nearly a month.

His family told Local 4 that he is in solitary confinement at a Russian work camp, where he is suffering from a repetitive motion injury in his arm.

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.

On the heels of President Joe Biden bring up his name to President Vladmir Putin in June, Whelan can now claim he has Congressional support.

The U.S. Senate passed a resolution demanding Whelan’s release and Rep. Haley Stevens is bringing a resolution to the U.S. House of Representatives.

“We must stand up and make clear that American citizens will not be used as political pawns for other countries,” Stevens said. “Period, end of story.”

“Paul Whelan belongs home in Novi, where he can pick up the pieces of his life,” said Paul Whelan’s sister, Elizabeth Whelan. “We call on Russia to release Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed and let them return safely home.”

The family remains grateful for the support, but they’re hoping they will have the chance to heard from Paul Whelan himself. They believe he is in his second 15-day stint in solitary confinement. He last spoke with his parents July 4 and they are deeply concerned he may have been moved from the Mordovian prison camp he’s toiled away in since his sentencing.

“What’s going on? It’s such an opaque environment,” said his brother, David Whelan. “The lack of communication causes us to struggle.”

The family believes that the more Whelan’s case and the case of Trevor Reed become public talking points, the better the chances of Paul’s released.

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


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.