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Paul Whelan's brother calls on Biden to get him released from Russian prison

CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for Dec. 7, 2023
CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for Dec. 7, 2023 04:02

(CBS DETROIT) - Paul Whelan, an American businessman, has been wrongfully detained in Russia since 2018, and his brother is calling on President Joe Biden to get him released. 

In an email, David Whelan said that Dec. 8 will mark a year since the U.S. was able to bring WNBA star Brittney Griner home after she was imprisoned for 10 months. 

This comes after the announcement that the U.S. made a new proposal for the release of Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, but Moscow rejected the offer. 

The State Department says they have made several proposals to bring the two men home but didn't provide any further details on those proposals. 

David Whelan says that the White House says Paul's case is a top priority, but he is unsure what that means to them anymore. 

"It has taken nearly twelve months for the U.S. to gather its resources and make a singular offer for Paul's freedom," David said in the email. "The offer was rejected. And we are once again back at square one, no further ahead than we were back on December 28, 2018. If there remain any stones to unturn, now is the time to uncover them."

Whelan has been detained in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges, and in 2020, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison. He was in Russia to attend a friend's wedding. 

David says their sister Elizabeth requested a meeting with Biden in August, and the White House allegedly brushed off her request. 

"Now would be a great time for the White House to show they were willing to do more than just air another platitude," said David. "A meeting would go a long way to reassure us that the President will keep his promise to Paul and will not miss an opportunity to bring Paul home to our family. Even an opportunity that is difficult to create and a hard decision to make."

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