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Paul Whelan, an American detained in Russia, was attacked by a fellow inmate at a labor camp in Mordovia, his brother David Whelan reported.


David Whelan recounted the incident, stating, “Paul Whelan was working at a sewing table Tuesday when a prisoner blocked part of the production line, forcing Whelan to ask him repeatedly to move out of the way.” The situation escalated when the prisoner struck Whelan in the face and broke his glasses. “He would have hit him again if other inmates had not stepped in the way to break up the fight,” David added.

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Despite the minor nature of the injuries, David expressed concern: “He is also concerned that these sorts of attacks can occur any time and, due to the various sharp implements in the workshop including the shears the other prisoner was holding today, could escalate into a far more serious attack.” He highlighted the additional risk faced by Paul, noting, “Paul is a target because he is an American and anti-American sentiment is not uncommon among the other prisoners.”


The family has taken proactive steps by filing a complaint with the Mordovia prosecutor’s office and the human rights ombudsman in the Russian Federation. They have also communicated with US authorities, sharing an audio recording of a call with Paul Whelan about the attack. Russian state-run media TASS reported that an investigation is underway and a decision on formal criminal charges is expected. Paul Whelan, who has been sentenced to 16 years on espionage charges he denies, is identified by the US as wrongfully detained.


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