Russian authorities have sent imprisoned Michigan native Paul Whelan to “a strict regimen camp” established “as part of the gulag under Stalin,” according to the former Marine’s twin brother. . .
Whelan has been sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment on charges of espionage based on allegations that his family says were trumped up by Russian security services with the assistance of a supposed friend who owed him money. His family believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government wants to swap Paul Whelan in a prospective deal involving high-profile Russian criminals in American prisons, but U.S. officials have dismissed the idea of a trade.
“We seem to be at sort of an impasse where if there are discussions going on, it’s not clear they’re going on,” David Whelan said. “And in fact, Paul being sent out to the labor camp suggests that there aren’t any activities going on between the two countries.”
The lack of communication was evident on Monday, when State Department officials made a routine inquiry about Paul Whelan’s status at Lefortovo Prison only to learn that he “wasn’t there anymore.” Prison authorities declined to provide any information about his whereabouts to the U.S. government, his brother said, but they told British officials on Tuesday that he had been sent by train to a camp in Mordovia.
“It is no surprise that once again the Russian authorities violated Russian law, by failing to notify our family about Paul’s whereabouts,” David Whelan wrote in an email to journalists and supporters. “It also shows how easily American citizens held in Russia can disappear from view, as consular access is now even more curtailed than it has been since Paul was first wrongly detained.” (Read more from “Russia Sends Former Marine to Prison Established ‘as Part of the Gulag Under Stalin'” HERE)