President Biden is expected to raise the fate of two former U.S. Marines held in Russian prisons when he meets with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, according to White House officials.
Last year, Paul Whelan was convicted by a Russian court of espionage and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Whelan, who also holds British, Irish and Canadian passports, was arrested in Moscow in December 2018. Prosecutors alleged he was working for American intelligence and was caught receiving a USB drive containing classified information. Whelan has denied he was a spy and said he was set up.
David Whelan, Paul’s brother, sent a recorded statement from the imprisoned American to reporters on Tuesday ahead of the summit.
“President Biden, after 30 months of being wrongfully detained by the Russian government — which is twice as long as American citizens were held hostage in Tehran — I implore you to bring this appalling case of hostage diplomacy to an end. I remain innocent. No crime of espionage occurred. The secret trial, without evidence, proves those facts. The abduction of an American tourist cannot stand,” Whelan said.