Accessibility links

Breaking News

U.S. Slams Russia's 'Shameful Treatment' Of Whelan On Thanksgiving Eve

Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine accused of espionage and arrested in Russia, in a Moscow courtroom last month.
Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine accused of espionage and arrested in Russia, in a Moscow courtroom last month.

The top U.S. envoy in Moscow has expressed concerns about the "deteriorating health" of Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen charged in Russia with espionage and detained since his arrest nearly a year ago.

On November 27, the U.S. Embassy also decried Moscow’s "shameful treatment" in denying the former marine the "minor comfort" of a Thanksgiving dinner that charge d’affaires Julie Fisher attempted to deliver to the Lefortovo detention center in Moscow.

The 49-year-old Whelan, who also holds Canadian, Irish, and British citizenship, was arrested in a hotel room in the Russian capital in December 2018 and charged with espionage.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Whelan denied the allegations and his family said he was in Moscow at the time for a wedding.

Whelan told reporters from a cage at a Moscow court hearing on August 23 that he had been abused by prison guards during his incarceration as he awaits trial.

On November 19, Moscow City Court upheld an earlier ruling to prolong Whelan’s pretrial detention until December 29.

"On this Thanksgiving Eve, I am most concerned about #PaulWhelan's deteriorating health and continued isolation from family. It is time that we are allowed to bring in an outside doctor, as suggested by a high-level Russian official. Enough is enough,” Fisher said in a Twitter statement.

Earlier, the embassy said that "Russian authorities denied #PaulWhelan the minor comfort of a Thanksgiving dinner today. As American families around the world gather, Paul marks 11 months in prison and can't even call his parents. This is shameful treatment."

November 28 is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, a day when American families traditionally gather for turkey dinners.

  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.