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Paul Whelan seen for first time in over three years in rare video inside Russia prison

Imprisoned American Paul Whelan has been seen for the first time in three years after Russian state media released footage of him inside a notorious prison.

The former US Marine is seen in video clips wearing a black prison uniform and hat inside IK-17, a maximum-security penal colony 300 miles east of Moscow.

The footage was broadcast on Monday by Russia Today, a state-controlled propaganda channel.

In one scene, Whelan is seen working at a sewing machine inside the prison, which is located in the remote Mordovia region.

“Sir, you understand when I say I can’t do an interview, which means I can’t answer any questions,” he was recorded telling a journalist.

Whelan’s family told ABC News that he had told them the video was shot back in May and that he had refused to cooperate with it and suffered retaliation.

Whelan’s twin brother David told the outlet that “they damaged a number of his personal possessions. They stole a number of items from his personal property,”

Imprisoned American Paul Whelan has been seen for the first time in three years after Russian state media released footage of him inside a notorious prison. (RT)
Imprisoned American Paul Whelan has been seen for the first time in three years after Russian state media released footage of him inside a notorious prison. (RT)

Other shots show Whelan eating at a table and seemingly holding up an identification card.

David When said that he was grateful to see the video of his brother, whom the US is still negotiating to be released.

“Today was the first time I’ve seen what he really looks like since June 2020,” he told ABC News.

“He seems to look healthy when he stares down the camera at the end of the video. You can see his strength, and I think it’s contempt for the Russian propagandists.

“I think seeing him has helped all of us realize that he’s resilient and we need to keep helping him so that he comes home.”

The US government has declared that Whelan has been wrongly detained by Russia and has been trying to get him returned to America for years.

Imprisoned American Paul Whelan has been seen for the first time in three years after Russian state media released footage of him inside a notorious prison. (RT)
Imprisoned American Paul Whelan has been seen for the first time in three years after Russian state media released footage of him inside a notorious prison. (RT)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Whelan by phone earlier this month and assured him the Biden administration was committed to getting him released.

Whelan was arrested in 2018 and charged with espionage, which he has vehemently denied, and was convicted in a Russian court in June 2020.

He is one of two Americans the US says is being wrongly held by Vladimir Putin, along with Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich.

WNBA player Brittney Griner was released from a Russian prison last December after she was involved in a prisoner swap with convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Despite efforts by the White House, Russia would not include Whelan in that negotiation.