White house reiterates call on Russia to release US national Paul Whelan

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Washington, Dec 29 (UNI)- The US government is reiterating its call on Russia to release former US Marine Paul Whelan, who was arrested in Russia five years ago on espionage charges, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.

“We once again call on Russia to release him immediately. We continue to work intensively to bring him home to his loved ones. Our thoughts are with him and his remarkably strong family today,” Sullivan said in a statement.

The politician added that Whelan, who was found to be involved in espionage by a Russian court and prosecutors, spent these years in “wrongful detention” in Russia.

Early in December, US Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller said the United States has made a new proposal to Russia to secure the release of Moscow-based Wall Street Journal reporters Evan Gershkovich and Whelan, but it has been rejected by Moscow.

On December 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Kremlin was hoping to reach a mutually acceptable prisoner exchange deal with the US to return Whelan and Gershkovich.

The Russian authorities arrested Whelan in 2018 and subsequently sentenced him to 16 years in prison on espionage charges. Whelan has denied the charges and maintained that he was innocent.

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