The US is talking to Russia “this week” to free ex-Marine Paul Whelan

US officials will hold talks with Russian leaders “this week” about the release of former Marine Paul Whelan, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday.

“As far as whether or not we’ve had contact with the Russian Federation regarding the Whelan case, we’ll be talking to them this week,” Sullivan told reporters.

Sullivan was not asked and did not refer to the case of American Mark Fogel – who, like Whelan, was left behind when President Biden signed a prisoner swap last week, in which US convicted arms dealer Victor Booth was exchanged for basketball player Brittney Griner. released. .

Booth, 55, was convicted in 2011 of supporting terrorists and conspiring to kill Americans and was serving a 25-year sentence. He was arrested for conspiring to sell anti-aircraft missiles to FARC rebels in Colombia.

The US is reportedly in talks with Russia this week about Paul Whelan’s release.
They did not ask about Sullivan and did not mention the case of American Mark Fogel.
Paul Whelan’s lawyer says he was framed by the Russian government.
AFP via Getty Images

When asked specifically Monday, Sullivan declined to say whether he considered Booth a “terrorist.”

“He was not included in the specially designated national list. We consider him a criminal convicted of arms trafficking and other crimes,” he said.

“He spent 12 years in prison. He was supposed to be released in 2029. And of course, before we make a decision whether or not to send someone back as part of the Take America Home deal, we will determine the national security implications.”

Whelan, 52, was arrested in Russia in 2018 and eventually served 16 years in prison on espionage charges. His protector said Whelan was caught with a thumb drive believed to contain Russian “state secrets,” but he was only told pictures of churches.

He is scheduled to be released in 2029.
Whelan has so far served 12 years in a Russian prison.
Mark Fogel pictured during his 2014 tour of England.
Mark Fogel was arrested in Russia for possession of marijuana.

Fogel, 61, was arrested in August 2021 for possession of 17 grams of medical marijuana. The former history teacher, like Griner, was arrested in Moscow when the cauldron was found in his trunk.

Fogel was sentenced to 14 years in prison in June — a month before Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to traveling with a small amount of cannabis oil.

The U.S. government requested Fogel’s release on humanitarian grounds, This was reported by CNN in August, but Washington did not include him in a proposed prisoner exchange involving Griner and Whelan.


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