US detainee in Russia phones family after week of silence


US detainee Paul Whelan phoned his parents from Russia today, a week after they lost contact with him. (AP pic)
WASHINGTON: American detainee Paul Whelan phoned his parents from Russia early today, his brother said, the first contact since last week that occurred after the White House expressed deep concern.
Paul Whelan, a former US marine detained in Russia since 2018 and convicted on espionage charges in 2020, had been transferred to the hospital prison, his brother, David Whelan, said in a statement.
“So the call at least acts as a ‘proof of life’, even if nothing else has been explained: when Paul went there, why, why the calls stopped, why the US Embassy had to seek information about his whereabouts and the Russian authorities refused to respond, etc,” his brother said.
On Wednesday, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the US was “deeply concerned” about why they had not been able to get information on Whelan’s whereabouts or condition from Moscow.

Kirby addressed the issue after Whelan’s family said this week that they had not heard from Paul since Nov 23, but had seen reports he had been moved to the prison hospital.

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