March 23, 2020
Good morning. I am very grateful for your being here today. I am joined by my colleagues, the Ambassador from the United Kingdom, Ambassador Bronnert, and the Ambassador from Ireland, Ambassador McElduff.
As the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, the security and well-being of American citizens is my highest priority.
We are here today to visit with Paul Whelan, a citizen of each of our countries.
Paul Whelan has now been held in Russia for almost 15 months, without evidence; without proper medical care for a serious, potentially life-threatening medical condition; and without even ONE phone call to his family, to his elderly parents. These are really extraordinary circumstances.
We did have an opportunity to meet with Paul today, and we are grateful to the presiding judge for allowing us that opportunity to speak with Paul. We saw him and were able to converse with him, but the proceeding itself was closed so we had to leave before the judicial proceeding continued.
I am hoping that, as this process moves forward, we see a fair and transparent judicial process. Every person, every citizen, of every country in the world, deserves that.
In fact, it is a human right outlined by the United Nation’s universal declaration of human rights: everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, and everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by such a tribunal.
As I said, Paul has been held without evidence for almost 15 months.
We’re counting on you – the members of the Russian and international media – to help ensure that Paul Whelan is afforded a fair judicial trial. By reporting facts and not speculation, you play a key role in ensuring fairness and transparency, and justice for Paul Whelan.
I have great respect for the hard work of all of you, of all journalists, and the role you play in ensuring a fair judiciary, and democracy in general. And I again thank you for being here today.
It’s a sad day for me as an American and a U.S. Ambassador, in these circumstances, to come and see a citizen of my country held in such circumstances, with serious health problems unaddressed, with no evidence that’s been produced to justify his incarceration for well over a year, and his inability to communicate with his family despite repeated requests by him and by me to the Russian government.
So, again, thank you for your attention to this.