Paul Whelan marked five years in Russian detention on Dec. 28 as he called on U.S. President Joe Biden to “please use every resource available to secure my release as you would do if your own son had been taken hostage.”
Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested in Moscow on Dec. 28, 2018 and imprisoned on spying charges he denies. He maintains he was visiting Russia to attend a friend's wedding.
He has criticized Biden for being "the guy that made the decision to leave me behind twice," stressing "he's the man that can bring me home," and told media he feels betrayed by the White House.
This comes after WNBA star Brittney Griner and fellow Marine veteran Trevor Reed were swapped for Russian prisoners in the U.S. in 2022.
“I would ask President Biden to pull out the stops, cross the red lines, and do whatever needs to be done to get this case resolved and to get me home. If my life is not worth that effort, then I don’t know what is,” Whelan told CNN last week.
WNBA star Brittney Griner on Dec. 8 commemorated one year since her release from Russia and called for more effort to free others currently detained overseas.
“As you gather with loved ones and take part in your family’s traditions, please tell them how much you love them and also, please take a moment to think about and share a story, send a letter or call a representative about one of the many Americans being held away from their families this holiday season,” the Griner family said earlier in December.
A September study by the James P. Foley Foundation assessed that about 80 percent of the Americans detained in 2022 were in China, Iran, Russia or Venezuela.
The Biden administration is also working to free over 130 hostages, many with U.S. citizenship, who are being held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group.
Critics have expressed anger at the Biden administration for failing to leverage all available resources secure the release of U.S. citizens detained worldwide.