Brother of US Man in Russian Prison Says Contact Resumed

MOSCOW (AP) — The household of Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia for espionage, stated Friday that he has resumed contact after unexpectedly changing into unreachable in November.

Together with WNBA star Brittney Griner, Whelan is the main target of efforts by america to rearrange a prisoner swap with Russia.

The Related Press and different information organizations have reported that Washington has provided to alternate Griner and Whelan for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms supplier who’s serving a 25-year sentence within the U.S. and as soon as earned the nickname the “service provider of dying.”

Whelan’s brother, David, stated in an emailed assertion that Paul had known as his mother and father early U.S. time on Friday, the primary time any member of the family had spoken with him since Nov. 23. The household had been advised that he was moved to a jail hospital, however that the explanation for that was unclear as a result of he had not spoken of well being issues.

Within the name, he didn’t clarify why he was on the hospital, however stated he’d been given “particular dispensation” to name, indicating he had been prohibited from calling beforehand, David Whelan stated.

“So the decision not less than acts as a ‘proof of life’ even when nothing else is defined,” he stated.

Alexei Tyurkin, the chairman of the jail monitoring fee within the Mordovia area the place Whelan is incarcerated, stated he was within the jail hospital for “deliberate remedy,” however didn’t elaborate, in accordance with state information company RIA-Novosti.

The State Division stated later that Whelan additionally spoke to U.S. consular officers and that he had been returned from the hospital to the jail colony itself.

Whelan, a former Marine who later labored as a company safety government, was arrested in Moscow in December 2018. His lawyer stated Whelan was handed a flash drive that had labeled data on it that he didn’t learn about.

Whelan was convicted in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in jail.

Griner was sentenced to 9 years in jail in August for drug possession after vape canisters containing hashish oil had been present in her baggage at a Moscow airport in February. Her prominence as an athlete, together with two Olympic gold medals, has drawn extensive consideration to her case.

Requested by reporters on Tuesday whether or not a swap is feasible earlier than the 12 months’s finish, Russia’s deputy overseas minister, Sergei Ryabkov, responded: “There at all times is an opportunity.”

“Regrettably, there have been a couple of events when it appeared {that a} resolution in favor of it was about to be made, but it surely by no means occurred,” Ryabkov stated with out elaborating.

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