US President Joe Biden calls for the release of US prisoner in Russia who was convicted in 2020 for espionage


US citizen Paul Whelan, a former Marine imprisoned in Russia on espionage charges that the United States says are fabricated, was seen in a video broadcast by a Kremlin-backed news channel on Monday.

Whelan was arrested in 2018 in Russia, and convicted in 2020 on espionage charges and sentenced to 16 years in prison in a penal colony in Mordovia, a Russian region known for its penal colonies since Soviet times.

Whelan has denied the accusations.

The US administration of President Joe Biden classifies Whelan as “unjustly detained,” a legal term meaning that the accusations against him are unfounded and that he was targeted primarily because he is a US citizen.

In the footage broadcast by Russian state-controlled RT news network, Whelan, dressed in a black prison uniform, appears in different parts of the prison with other prisoners, as well as sewing with a sewing machine and while in the prison cafeteria.

His brother, David Whelan, said in an email, “Today was the first time since June 2020 that I’ve seen him look so clearly.”

He added that RT reporters came to the prison in May to film Whelan, and when he refused to participate in the filming, prison staff retaliated against him.

In the video that was broadcast, Whelan tells anyone who asks him that he won’t answer his questions.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Whelan on the phone this month.

The US administration has repeatedly said it’s doing everything it can to bring him home.

Russia is also holding a US citizen and Wall Street Journal reporter, Ivan Gershkovitch, on espionage charges that carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

He was arrested at the end of March in Yekaterinburg, a city in the Urals.

Gershkovitch, who has denied the charges, appealed on Saturday against the latest extension of his pre-trial detention in Moscow.

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