Russian state-controlled news agency Russia Today released video footage showing American prisoner Paul Whelan in a Russian prison camp, where he has been held for over four years.
The video captures Whelan in various sections of the prison, including scenes of him operating a sewing machine and dining in the mess hall.
During the video, the imprisoned American communicates to a reporter from the Kremlin-affiliated media organization.
“You understand when I say that I can’t do an interview, which means I can’t answer any questions,” said Whelan.
Whelan, possessing citizenship in the U.S., Ireland, Britain, and Canada, was arrested December 2018 in a Moscow hotel, according to a report from CNN. Russian officials claimed he was partaking in an intelligence operation.
The ex-U.S. Marine was sentenced to 16 years in prison after his conviction by a Russian court of espionage charges, a claim he fervently disputes.
“I was arrested for a crime that never occurred,” Whalen previously told CNN. “I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here.”
“Today was the first time I’ve seen what he really looks like since June 2020,” Whelan’s brother David remarked after the RT released its video.
His broter further elaborated that the RT team had visited the prison to film Paul in May, and after Paul declined an interview, he faced retaliation from the prison staff.
“I wish I could see Paul under better circumstances,” he said. “But it was good to see him again and to see the fight remains in his eyes. It is good to know Paul remains unbowed.”
Earlier in the month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a telephone conversation with Whelan, the report noted.
A source familiar with the call reportedly confirmed the U.S. government views Whelan’s detention as unjust.
Despite efforts, the U.S. has not been successful in securing Whelan’s release through prisoner exchanges, which previously facilitated the return of two other Americans wrongfully detained: Trevor Reed and Brittney Griner.
The Biden administration has proposed terms for Whelan’s release, but Russia has allegedly not engaged in meaningful dialogue, according to two administration officials cited by the outlet.
The U.S. continues its pursuit of a viable proposal to secure the release of Whelan and another detained Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich.