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Representative Haley Stevens (D-Michigan) has intensified her appeal for the release of Paul Whelan, an American detained in Russia, marking five years since his arrest.

Stevens expressed her frustration on X, formerly known as Twitter, stating, “Five years is five years too long, Paul Whelan should be home right now. No American should be held for half a decade after a false arrest and sham trial. I’m calling on Vladimir Putin to release Paul now.”

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Whelan, a resident of Stevens’s district before his arrest, was apprehended in 2018 on espionage charges, which he and the US government have vehemently denied. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020. Despite efforts for a prisoner swap between the US and Russia, progress has stalled, leaving Whelan feeling “abandoned” in Russia. He voiced his concern to WTOP, stating, “At this point, the five-year mark, I’m extremely concerned about being left behind a third time.”

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The lack of an agreement for Whelan’s release has led to further frustration, with Whelan telling the BBC, “I know the US have all sorts of proposals, but it’s not what the Russians want… It’s been five years!”

Previous prisoner swaps have successfully secured the release of individuals such as WNBA star Brittney Griner and former marine Trevor Reed.

A State Department Spokesman reacted to the news, saying they remain committed to securing Paul Whelan’s release. They noted that Russia rejected a “significant proposal” to release Whelan and Washington Post reporter Evan Gershkovich.


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