(UnitedVoice.com) – Former US Marine Paul Whelan is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence in Russia for espionage. The US government maintains the charges against him were fabricated and has been fighting for his release since his arrest during former President Donald Trump’s administration in 2018. Recently, his family claimed he was attacked in prison.
On November 28, Whelan told his family that he was working on a production line at the labor camp where he’s being held when another prisoner hit him in the face. The former Marine’s brother, David Whelan, briefed the press on the incident. According to him, the assailant attempted to hit Whelan in the face again, but he “stood up to block the second hit.” At that point, other prisoners at the facility intervened in the fight.
The family said Whelan is a target at the prison because “he is an American, and anti-American sentiment is not uncommon among other prisoners.” The former Marine told his family that the attack on him was “relatively minor,” but he is concerned that there could be more. He’s especially worried that an assailant might use one of the sharp tools in the workshop to attack him.
The New York Times reported that the State Department said Whelan spoke to officials at the US Embassy in Moscow and he is “receiving medical treatment following the incident.” The statement went on to say that the US government is urging Russia to ensure all American citizens in the country’s custody are receiving “fair treatment and appropriate medical care.”
President Joe Biden’s administration has negotiated the release of multiple prisoners in Russia, including WNBA player Brittney Griner. When the government secured her release, Biden faced backlash for not getting Whelan out too. However, Russia reportedly refused to release the former Marine. At that time, David Whelan told The Associated Press that the Whelan family supported Griner’s release and said they know that Russia is not going to allow him to leave “anytime soon.”
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