‘US has abandoned me’: Paul Whelan tells parents his abandonment comes after WNBA star was freed

Family said state department told them US has made substantial offer to Russia to release him

During a phone call with his parents over the weekend, Paul Whelan reportedly said he felt like the United States government had abandoned him.

His feeling of abandonment comes months after the high-profile prisoner swap that brought WNBA star Britney Griner home, but he still sits in Russia in limbo.

Being abandoned by your country is a definite shift in outlook for Whelan.

Local 4 wanted to know more about why he is now saying that by speaking with his brother David Whelen.

“Paul spoke to our parents, and he used the word abandoned,” said David Whelan. “I think that him losing composure, losing his hope to get a positive state day to day in a Russian labor camp, is a little bit rattled. The fact that another American has been detained by the Kremlin charge of espionage makes you wonder if the U.S. government will be able to bring Paul home.”

Paul has now spent 1,570 days being held in a Russian prison, accused by the Russians of espionage.

After seeing the U.S. free other American citizens from Russian prisons, another American has been detained in Russia.

Over the weekend, David says his brother expressed a loss of resolve and even hope that he will be freed.

He says Paul’s change in resolve was clear.

“I think it was the arrest of another American,” David said. “It’s the reputation now of what happened with Brittney Griner and what happened with Trevor Reed. This is the third time that an American has been detained in Russia, and the last few times, the other Americans went home, and Paul didn’t. So I think his resolve is uncertain.”

David says the state department has told the family that the U.S. has made a substantial offer to Russia to release Paul.

About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.