Novi native Paul Whelan marks 3 years as a prisoner in Russia

Russian government accused Paul Whelan of being a spy

Paul Whelan has been behind bars for three years.

NOV, Mich.Paul Whelan was arrested in Moscow on Dec. 28, 2018.

He said he was in Russia to attend a friend’s wedding. The Russian government said he was there as a U.S. spy. Now, three years later, he is still being held in a Russian prison camp.

Read: Paul Whelan in message to family from Russian prison: ‘Corruption here knows no bounds’

“It’s really hard to hit a three-year mark and know that three Christmases, three birthdays, all of this time has gone past,” said Paul’s twin brother David Whelan.

These last three years have been full of hard work for the Whelan family. Paul and David’s sister Elizabeth continues to go to Washington D.C. and meet virtually with U.S. senators, representatives, the Department of Justice and other agencies that could help Paul’s case.

“The resolutions that came through in the House and the Senate on his behalf were because of her lobbying. I’ve continued to work with media to try and make sure that people are aware that there are American citizens and not just Paul, dozens and dozens of American citizens being held by foreign nations in a sense of hostage diplomacy, trying to get some sort of concession from the United States in return for sending back their citizens,” David Whelan said.

That work behind the scenes is what he believes is keeping Paul Whelan in the forefront and will eventually bring him home.

“I think, in year three, we have seen a lot more engagement on behalf of the U.S. administration. Since President Biden took office. We’ve seen a lot more public announcements and discussions about Paul’s case,” David Whelan said.

The Whelan family’s goal is, and has always been, to bring Paul Whelan home -- and until that happens, they will make sure he is not forgotten.

“He’s still in a Russian labor camp and it’s I think it’s very difficult for people to comprehend, that someone can be in this position for so long and that the U.S. government isn’t able to impact the case,” said David.

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About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.