Blinken has had his third conversation with American citizen Paul Whelan, who is currently held in Russia.

On February 13, 2024, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Paul Whelan, an American businessman who has been wrongfully detained in Russia since 2018. This was the third time Blinken has spoken with Whelan, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison on espionage charges that the U.S. has deemed to be false. During the call, Blinken assured Whelan that the U.S. is actively working to secure his release, along with that of Evan Gershkovich and other Americans who are also wrongfully detained. This call was originally scheduled for January but was postponed due to logistical issues on Whelan’s end. Whelan’s brother, David, stated that while the call is a source of comfort for Whelan and their parents, it does not indicate any progress in securing his release. In January, President Biden met with Whelan’s sister, Elizabeth, at the White House, and the family has been urging the administration to take more action to bring him home. The State Department has made multiple proposals to Russia for the release of Whelan and Gershkovich, but they have been rejected. The U.S. will continue to engage with Russia in pursuit of their release.  

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