This is Paul Whelan’s sister Elizabeth with an update to give you, the people who care deeply about Paul’s situation, the latest news. And today we have a message from Paul himself! Paul Whelan was able to speak with our parents yesterday, marking the 4-year point in his wrongful detention in Russia. And he asked that we share the following message:

Year Five of being wrongfully detained has begun. For more than four years, the Russian Government has held me hostage for no reason other than animosity toward our freedoms, values, and way of life. The fabricated espionage charge [and] the ‘secret agent’ story have been debunked for years. No crime occurred, yet here I sit in a Russian slave labor camp. There have been two recent prisoner trades between the United States and Russia, both of which left me behind.

I have been subjected to all manner of human rights violations, a sham trial, and medical neglect which resulted in emergency surgery. The Russians don’t care about my well-being, and will blame anything that happens to me on the White House. More needs to be done to secure my release! This hostage diplomacy debacle has gone on for far too long. People in our world simply would not believe the deplorable conditions in which I am being held.

As we ring in the New Year, I would like to thank family, friends, and supporters around the world for their endeavors. This includes members of the media, and members of my four Governments who are working toward my release. Please accept my sincere gratitude for your efforts, but also keep in mind that the situation does not come to a successful conclusion until I am home with my elderly parents, and my elderly dog Flora.

Mr. President, the power is within your hands to reach a compromise with the Russians and bring me home – and the sooner, the better!

To everyone: thank you very much for your support!

Happy New Year!

— Paul N. Whelan