Paul Whelan calls on Biden to treat his case as ‘he would do if his own son were being held hostage’

Paul Whelan on Thursday called for President Joe Biden to handle his case as “he would do if his own son were being held hostage” as he marked another holiday in Russian detention.

“I would hope that the president truly makes my case truly a top priority and leverages the resources available to him as he would do if his own son were being held hostage,” he said in a phone call to CNN on Thursday.

“As the United States celebrates another year of independence, America should not forget that several of its citizens are being held hostage around the world by rogue regimes intent on exacting some form of ransom from the US government. These wrongful detentions undermine our concepts of rights and freedoms. They should not be tolerated, tacitly nor otherwise,” Whelan said. “My detention at the hands of the Russian government over more than five and a half years, for a charge of espionage that never occurred, subjects me to slave labor six days a week, and living conditions that defy human rights.”

Whelan, who has been declared as wrongfully detained by the US State Department, was arrested in Moscow in December 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020 on espionage charges he consistently and vehemently denies.

Whelan told CNN that “it’s surreal” to spend another Fourth of July in Russian detention.

“You kind of get used to these holidays going by and you try not to mark every holiday that you miss. But it’s difficult because this would be a day that there would be parades, there would be firecrackers, there would be music on the White House lawn, there are concerts. There’s all sorts of things that I would have either paid attention to on television or gone to in person or participated with friends and family,” he said.

“So it’s not just a holiday going by, it’s me missing my life, and missing my family, missing my dog, missing my friends, missing the things that we take for granted. You know, having hot dogs — they don’t have hot dogs here. There are no hot dogs. It’s crazy. Fireworks. I haven’t seen fireworks in years. There are just basics of our lives that I miss,” Whelan continued.

Whelan, who called CNN from his remote prison camp in Mordovia, said, “It’s tiresome sometimes but the things that keep me going are the fact that these people in the government are working towards my freedom, that my family is supporting me, my friends are supporting me, and that people like you are willing to pay attention to what I have to say.”

He also thanked “members of Congress from both parties” who “support my homecoming, and the tireless folks in a myriad of government agencies that know my name oh so well.”

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