U.S. Embassy in Moscow concerned about Novi man's health in Russian prison

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-01 18:11:30-04

NOVI, Mich. (WXYZ) — We are following disturbing new developments on the international fight over a Novi man accused by Russia of being a spy. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow says Paul Whelan’s health has worsened.

“Paul Whelan gets basic medical care at Lefortovo, but his condition needs more than the prison can provide. We asked in April for an outside exam at no cost to the Russian government. Request denied, yet Paul’s condition worsens. Welfare of U.S. citizens abroad is our highest priority,” said Andrea Kalan, Spokesperson at U.S. Embassy Moscow on Twitter.

“We don’t really know what his health condition is,” said David Whelan, Paul’s brother in an interview with 7 Action News.

David said he is worried for his brother. He said he had health conditions before he was taken into custody 185 days ago that have not been treated. For the sake of his brother’s medical privacy he declined to go into detail.

“We’d like Paul to come home however he can, but he hasn’t done anything wrong. He is innocent and hasn’t been convicted of anything in that country. I think if anything Mr. Ryabkov ’s statement makes it clear that Paul is just a political pawn,” said David Whelan.

The Interfax news agency reported that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called for a prisoner swap with the United States.

Reportedly he wanted the U.S to release pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who is serving a 20-year sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the country. However Ryabkov denied any such plans to other news outlets.

“We are hopeful by Mr. Ryabkov speaking out, he is in a senior enough level in foreign ministry in Russia, it looks like his case has reached the sort of level where the diplomats can get together and find a way to bring him home,” said David Whelan.