Paul Whelan strikes confident tone for return from Russia back home to Michigan in new interview

US officials are searching for options that could draw Russia to the negotiating table

Paul Whelan has been detained in Russia for 1,606 days, and in a new interview, he’s striking a more positive tone about his chances of coming home.

It is a big change considering how bleak things were following the release of Brittney Griner.

Whelan hopes for more action on his behalf, but he is much more hopeful that he will get to come back home to Michigan.

Whelan, who has been wrongfully detained in Russia for more than four years, spoke to CNN from a Russian prison.

“I remain positive and confident on a daily basis that the wheels are turning,” Whelan said. “I just wish they would turn a little bit more quickly.”

Back in December, Whelan spoke with CNN shortly after the release of Griner, the result of a second prisoner swap between the United States and Russia that didn’t include him.

But he’s hopeful that his time will come.

“I’m more confident now,” Whelan said. “You know, I feel that my life shouldn’t be considered less valuable or important than others who have been previously traded. I have been told that although Evan’s case is a priority, mine is also a priority.”

FILE - Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 18, 2023. Despite its reputation as a comedic roast, the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday plans to take on the serious and solemn role of journalism in a democracy. This years dinner occurs as Gershkovich has been imprisoned in Russia. He was detained in March and charged with spying, despite strong denials from his employer and the U.S. government. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File) (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Evan Gershkovich is a Wall Street Journal reporter who was detained by Russian authorities almost two months ago. Just like Whelan, he has been charged with espionage.

United States officials are searching for options that could draw Russia to the negotiating table and secure the release of both men.

Whelan sent a message to United States President Joe Biden.

“Freedom is not free,” Whelan said. “It comes at a price. But the loss of freedom is even more costly, and I pay that cost every day Russia holds me. Please follow through with your promises and commitments, truly make my life a priority, and get me home.”

Whelan said there would be an end to the situation and hoped it would come sooner than later.

About the Authors:

Will Jones rejoined the Local 4 News team in February 2023 as a weekend anchor and reporter. He previously worked as a general assignment reporter for the station from 2012 to 2015.

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.