Reps. Stevens and Pfluger Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter Urging President Biden to Address the Detention of U.S. Citizens, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed

June 15, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC – Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) joined with Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX) and members of the Michigan and Texas House and Senate delegations to call for President Biden to address the arrest and subsequent detentions of U.S. citizens Paul Whelan of Michigan and Trevor Reed of Texas when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. 

 

Paul Whelan was arrested in December 2018 and falsely charged with espionage,” said Rep. Stevens (MI-11).  “Throughout Mr. Whelan’s detention, the Russian government has repeatedly violated his rights, denied him proper medical care, and refused to provide any evidence to substantiate the charges against him. He was held in pre-trial detention for over 18 months in the notorious Lefortovo prison. Then Mr. Whelan’s trial was held behind closed doors and his defense was prohibited from calling witnesses. Mr. Whelan now serves a 16-year sentence of hard labor. June 16 will mark the 900th day of Mr. Whelan’s unjust detention. Enough is enough. I urge President Biden to advocate on behalf of my constituent and his family. It is time to bring Paul home.” 

 

“Trevor Reed was arrested following an altercation with Moscow police in 2019 and accused of endangering the lives of the police officers,” said Rep. Pfluger (TX-11). During his trial, Mr. Reed’s defense lawyers were repeatedly denied access to additional video evidence that would have proved his innocence. The case presented against Mr. Reed was so ridiculous it evoked laughter throughout the courtroom including the judge. U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan called his trial a “theater of the absurd” and “justice was not even considered” in the case. Mr. Reed was sentenced to nine years in prison camp. The U.S. Embassy in Russia recently issued a statement expressing concern for the health of Mr. Reed, who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, and who has been cut off from communication with his parents and diplomats for over two weeks. We are deeply concerned for the health of Mr. Reed and while we applaud the State Department’s responsiveness, mere statements are not enough.” 

 

 

On January 27th, 2021, Rep. Stevens sent a letter to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan urging immediate action for the release of Paul Whelan. In 2020, Congresswoman Stevens called on then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor Sullivan to take action in this case. In 2019, Congresswoman Stevens led and passed a bipartisan resolution calling on the Russian government to release Paul Whelan. She reintroduced the resolution in April, 2021. 

 

Read the full letter below:

 

June 15, 2021

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr. President of the United States

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden,

We write to urge you to address the arrest and detention of falsely accused U.S. citizens in Russia when you meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16. Over the past three years, the Russian Federation has arrested, detained, and convicted two American citizens, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed, on legally dubious and politically motivated charges. These political arrests are unacceptable and fly in the face of international legal standards.

Paul Whelan was arrested in December 2018 and falsely charged with espionage. Throughout Mr. Whelan’s detention, the Russian government repeatedly violated his rights, denied him proper medical care, and refused to provide any evidence to substantiate the charges against him. He was held in pre-trial detention for over 18 months in the notorious Lefortovo prison. Then Mr. Whelan’s trial was held behind closed doors and his defense was prohibited from calling witnesses. Mr. Whelan now serves a 16-year sentence of hard labor in the World War I-era IK- 17 gulag. June 16 will mark the 900th day of Mr. Whelan’s unjust detention.

Trevor Reed was arrested following an altercation with Moscow police in 2019 and accused of endangering the lives of the police officers. During his trial, Mr. Reed’s defense lawyers were repeatedly denied access to additional video evidence that would have proved his innocence. The case presented against Mr. Reed was so ridiculous it evoked laughter throughout the courtroom including the judge. U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan called his trial a “theater of the absurd” and “justice was not even considered” in the case. Mr. Reed was sentenced to nine years in prison camp. The U.S. Embassy in Russia recently issued a statement expressing concern for the health of Mr. Reed, who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, and who has been cut off from communication with his parents and diplomats for over two weeks. We are deeply concerned for the health of Mr. Reed and while we applaud the State Department’s responsiveness, mere statements are not enough.

As members of Congress, we have called on the Government of the Russian Federation to immediately release Mr. Whelan and Mr. Reed. Last Congress, the House of Representatives passed H.Res.552 calling for the release of Paul Whelan and H.Res.1115 calling for the release of Trevor Reed with overwhelming bipartisan support. We are pursuing similar resolutions in the 117th Congress. The Senate has also introduced bipartisan resolutions, S.Res.165 calling for the release of Paul Whelan and S.Res.67 calling for the release of Trevor Reed.

We commend the steps you and Secretary Blinken have taken to secure the release of Mr. Whelan and Mr. Reed and urge you to redouble your commitments to stand up for human rights, due process, and dignity of Americans abroad. We also urge you to intensify wherever possible your engagement with President Putin to make clear that politically motivated arrests and the detention of U.S. citizens are unacceptable. We must continue to urge him to release all prisoners unjustly imprisoned in Russia.

We thank you for your efforts and stand ready to work with you to secure the release of Mr. Whelan and Mr. Reed.

 

Sincerely,

 

Haley Stevens                              

August Pfluger 

  

Tim Walberg

Debbie Stabenow

Gary Peters

John Cornyn

Kevin McCarthy

Michael McCaul

Andy Levin

Brian Fitzpatrick

Trent Kelly

Peter Meijer

Dan Crenshaw

Marcy Kaptur

Brenda Lawrence

Daniel Kildee

Debbie Dingell

Deborah Ross

Roger Williams

Adam Kinzinger

Elissa Slotkin

William Keating

Andrew Garbarino

Van Taylor

Ronny Jackson

Brian Babin 

Kevin Brady

Young Kim

Lance Gooden

Carol D. Miller

Colin Allred

Rashida Tlaib

Joe Wilson

Jaoquin Castro

Mariannette Miller-Meeks

Ted Budd

Michael Burgess

Randy Weber

Beth Van Duyne

Fred Upton

John Moolenaar

Claudia Tenney

Tony Gonzales

Bill Huizenga

Jack Bergman

Lisa McClain

Henry Cuellar

Kaialiʻi Kahele

 

 

   

                                  

 

 

 

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