Sister of American Detained in Russia Seeks Urgent Presidential Intervention for Release


Elizabeth Whelan, sister of Paul Whelan, an American wrongfully detained in Russia, is eager to meet with President Joe Biden once again to urge him to utilize all possible means to bring her brother back home.

Elizabeth, who is currently in the nation’s capital for a series of engagements with officials from the administration and Congress, acknowledges and values the administration’s relentless efforts but feels a requisite for more direct involvement from the President. No meeting with Biden was slated for the week, causing mild frustration and disappointment for Elizabeth as she strives relentlessly for her brother’s return.

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Despite her admiration for the administration’s notable attempts thus far, Elizabeth voiced her belief that the efforts remain incomplete. “I admire what they’re doing on the 80%. I really admire that they’re doing great work, but if it doesn’t get Paul home, what’s the point?” Elizabeth pointed out.

Last September, Elizabeth had a meeting with Biden. However, she has grown increasingly skeptical about her access to high-level communication now that all attention seems to be turned towards the then-detained WNBA star, Brittney Griner. Elizabeth questioned the validity of this shift, wondering if an ordinary citizen like her brother may no longer be privy to such higher echelons of intervention.

As of Wednesday, no specific meetings have been arranged despite the assurance from a National Security Council spokesperson that Elizabeth, who is in town, will be meeting Whitehouse officials eventually.

Biden administration officials, including White House Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, have consistently reiterated their active and ongoing efforts to bring back Paul Whelan with a strong focus on achieving tangible results.

A proposition for Paul’s release was submitted by the administration over eight months ago. A non-communicative response from Russia, however, has driven the US to explore additional offers for negotiation. An unyielding commitment to solving the issue underscores the administration’s narrative, as evidenced by several high-profile interactions.

Last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured Paul Whelan during a phone call that they were doing everything possible to bring him home. Similarly, US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy visited Whelan in his remote prison camp in Mordovia, to reassure him of President Biden and Secretary Blinken’s commitment to his cause.

Meanwhile, David Whelan, Paul’s brother, revealed a growing, sober realization amongst the family, that Paul may need to complete his 16-year sentence on espionage charges that both he and the US categorically deny. Elizabeth, however, remains unequivocal in her pursuit: “Paul is never coming home until we do what it takes to get him out.” The urgency in her voice reflects a critical timeline looming on the horizon, as she works tirelessly for her brother’s return from Russian custody.