DETROIT – The family of a Michigan man arrested in Russia on suspicion of being a spy expects him to remain behind bars for at least another year.
Paul Whelan is on day 402 behind bars in the Lefortovo Prison. Last Thursday, new U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan made it a point as one of his first duties to pay Whelan a visit.
“Paul’s case had gone on far too long, shielded in secrecy and hidden from view, and there is nothing fair or transparent about it,” Sullivan said.
He called the former Marine’s treatment “shameful” and in violation of international norms and standards.
On Monday, Whelan’s brother said he was grateful to the ambassador for checking in. He said he is deeply concerned about the ambassador’s comments about Whelan’s deteriorating health.
Whelan reportedly has a hernia. His brother said it’s gone untreated and the Russians are using the language barrier to keep Whelan in the dark.
“He doesn’t know,” David Whelan said. “The FSB won’t allow him to speak to an English-speaking physician to get information about what his problem is and both the prison and FSB -- they’re blocking any sharing of medical records.”
More than anything, David Whelan said he’s worried it could be another year or more before his brother has a chance to get out of prison.
“There is a process as to how the Russians do this,” he said. “They have used coercive detention frequently against American and other citizens, and it’s just been a matter of whether there is a diplomatic relationship between the countries.”
David Whelan believes the Russians are looking for a way to trade his brother for something or someone they want, which is a fairly common occurrence there, officials said.