Whelan's Family Commends 'Continued Engagement' Of Biden Administration In His Case

Whelan's Family Commends 'Continued Engagement' of Biden Administration in His Case

The family of American citizen Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16 year jail term for espionage in Russia, thanked the Biden administration on Friday for demonstrating sustained engagement in efforts to secure his release

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 21st January, 2022) The family of American citizen Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16 year jail term for espionage in Russia, thanked the Biden administration on Friday for demonstrating sustained engagement in efforts to secure his release.

"Our family has seen a significant change in the past year, President Biden's first in office. The continued engagement of his administration with the Russian Federation has reassured us that Paul's arbitrary detention, while clearly difficult to resolve, is not forgotten," Whelan's brother, David Whelan, said in a statement.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva earlier in the day to discuss security issues, raised the cases of Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed.

"We appreciate that the White House continues to make Paul's and Trevor Reed's cases a priority in its bilateral discussions with the Russian government," the statement read.

"We hope that the State Department, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, and other US agencies will continue to press for the release of American citizens arbitrarily detained abroad."

Whelan, who holds American, British, Canadian and Irish citizenship, is serving a sentence in Russia after a Moscow court sentenced him to 16 years in prison in June 2020 on charges of espionage. He denies the charges, but did not challenge the verdict in hope of being part of a prisoner exchange between the two countries.

Reed was sentenced to nine years in July 2020 for assaulting police officers who were called to respond during a drunken dispute with two women on a Moscow street.