Stevens Calls on Ambassador Sullivan to Prioritize Paul Whelan Case
WASHINGTON – This week, Congresswoman Haley Stevens (MI-11) sent a letter to newly appointed United States Ambassador to Russia John J. Sullivan, asking him to prioritize the release of Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen and resident of Michigan’s 11th District who was arrested in Moscow in December 2018. Mr. Whelan has been wrongly imprisoned for more than 13 months, despite a lack of adequate public information or evidence about the charges against him. Mr. Whelan has also been denied basic rights including a fair trial, access to a phone to call his family, and proper medical attention.
Ambassador Sullivan, who arrived in Moscow on January 16th, visited Paul Whelan in Lefortovo Prison in one of his first public appearances as U.S. Ambassador to Russia.
“I have been encouraged by the steps the Embassy in Moscow has taken to look after Mr. Whelan’s welfare and protection, and I was pleased to see you visit him in Lefortovo prison,” said Congresswoman Stevens. “I now urge you to continue those efforts and use your new post to do everything in your power to secure his release. It is time for Paul Whelan to come home.”
In October 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed Rep. Stevens’ bipartisan resolution calling on the Russian Federation to provide evidence of wrongdoing or let Paul Whelan come home.
Rep. Stevens’ letter to Ambassador Sullivan can be found attached or below.
I am writing regarding my constituent and U.S. citizen Paul Whelan, who has been wrongly imprisoned by the Russian Federation for over a year. I urge you to use your new position as U.S. Ambassador to Russia take use any and all tools at your disposal to seek the immediately release of Mr. Whelan so that he may finally return home to his family.
Paul Whelan was arrested in late December 2018 and has been unfairly accused of espionage by the Russian Federation. Despite thirteen months of detention, the Russian Federation has yet to present adequate public information or evidence about the case against Mr. Whelan to justify his continued imprisonment.
The Russian government has continued to deny Paul his basic rights, and has even denied him the basic courtesy of speaking with his family. I encourage you and the Embassy team in Moscow to continue efforts to pressure prison guards to allow Mr. Whelan access to a phone to call his family.
I remain gravely concerned about the physical treatment of Mr. Whelan in Lefortovo prison. He has alleged abuse by the prison guards and is suffering from a hernia. He was scheduled for surgery in early 2019 after his planned return from Russia but has not received proper medical attention in the year since his arrest. It is crucial that an independent doctor be allowed to examine Mr. Whelan.
Mr. Whelan’s return home is not only a top priority of mine, but the entire House of Representatives, which unanimously called for his release when it passed H.Res. 552 in October. Senator Gary Peters of Michigan has also introduced an identical resolution in the Senate.
I have been encouraged by the steps the Embassy in Moscow has taken to look after Mr. Whelan’s welfare and protection, and I was pleased to see you visit him in Lefortovo prison. I now urge you to continue those efforts and use your new post to do everything in your power to secure his release. It is time for Paul Whelan to come home.
Thank you for your continued attention to this matter.
Haley M. Stevens
Member of Congress