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Biden meets with sister of Paul Whelan at the White House

President Biden on Wednesday met with the sister of Paul Whelan, an American who has been detained in Russia since 2018 on spying charges that he vehemently denies.

Biden met privately with Elizabeth Whelan “to discuss the Administration’s continued efforts to secure Paul’s release from Russia,” the White House said in a statement. National security adviser Jake Sullivan joined them for the meeting.

The president called Whelan’s parents after the visit.

Whelan was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison. The U.S. has determined his detention to be unlawful and criticized the Russian criminal allegations and court process as a sham.

Securing Whelan’s release has been a priority for the Biden administration, along with Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was detained in Russia last March on espionage charges, which he and the Journal have vehemently denied.

The Biden administration was unable to secure Whelan’s release in December 2022 as part of a prisoner swap that freed basketball star Brittney Griner in exchange for the release of arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Administration officials have said they believe the Russians are holding Whelan’s release to a higher bar than Griner’s because of the espionage charges. The similar charges against Gershkovich have also made securing his release difficult.


Source: The Hill

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