The brother of Paul Whelan, who is in a Russian prison on espionage charges, talked with the Washington Examiner on the fourth anniversary of Paul's arrest about how it is more and more difficult as time goes on to secure his release.
"Milestones are always hard," David Whelan said. "Four birthdays, four Christmases, and now the fourth anniversary of Paul's wrongful detention. I think we share the same concern as every family in this situation, which is that, with each passing year, it will become harder to bring Paul home."
Paul, who was discharged from the Marines for bad conduct in 2008 after being convicted of charges related to larceny, was sentenced by a Russian court to 16 years in prison in June, 2020.
The Biden administration has stated that he is "wrongfully detained" and has been conducting talks with Russia for his release, the Washington Examiner reported.
But David said that "it has already become hard to combat compassion fatigue, to keep up Paul's morale and help him to survive as fewer people remember his plight, fewer people write to him, and he starts to worry about being forgotten.
"We hope that Paul will be home before the next milestone that reminds him, and us, that, despite good intentions, these efforts can be fleeting. We will need to remember that there are months and possibly still years before he is free."
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden agreed to exchange convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, but was not able to convince Moscow to include Paul in the deal.
Despite the obvious disappointment for the Whelan family, David told the Examiner that "we were fortunate that, in the wake of Brittney Griner's release, both she and the U.S. government spoke up in support of Paul," stressing that at least on this fourth anniversary of his arrest, "we know people are aware of Paul's imprisonment and are doing what they can to help. Americans are writing to him, and the American government is working to secure his freedom."
There are approximately 60 Americans, according to various nonprofits, who are being wrongfully detained globally, many of whom have been in prison even longer than Paul.
A State Department spokesman said that "our efforts to bring Paul Whelan home will not cease until he is back home with his family where he belongs. Using wrongful detention as a bargaining chip represents a threat to the safety of everyone traveling, working, and living abroad. The United States opposes this practice everywhere."
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.