Biden brings detained Americans Paul Whelan and Trevor Reid to a meeting with Putin

“I raised the issue of two wrongfully imprisoned American citizens, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reid,” Biden said during a news conference on Wednesday after the summit in Geneva.

“The families of the Americans detained came and we discussed them. We’re going to take that discussion forward. I’m not going to shy away from it,” he said.

A senior State Department official briefing reporters on the summit would not give any details other than “saying that the president was very clear about the need to resolve these, these matters”.

The families of both men applauded that the US President spoke by their name.

“The President of the United States was overjoyed to finally hear Trevor’s name, on his 671st day of wrongful detention,” family spokesman Jonathan Franks said in a statement to CNN.

“We are grateful that President Biden took up Paul’s case by name as part of this important meeting with President Putin,” Paul Whelan’s brother, David Whelan, told CNN in a statement.

At his own news conference, Putin also said that matters had come to the fore and said that “a definitive settlement could be found there.”

“The Russian Foreign Ministry and the US State Department will work in that direction,” the Russian president said.

David Whelan said the family “expects that, when President Putin talks about a possible settlement around prisoners in both countries, it could result in Paul’s release.”

“But I would like to reiterate my thanks to President Biden for holding the meeting with President Putin and taking the initiative to take the matter face-to-face,” he said, adding that “they couldn’t have expected more” and they “wait Will do and see what happens next.”

Both families, as well as Paul Whelan himself, had invited Biden to a meeting with his Russian counterpart to discuss their affairs.

in one Exclusive CNN Interview Earlier this month, Paul Whelan called on Biden to “aggressively discuss and resolve” the issue of detaining US citizens for political purposes during the meeting.

There is an “immediate need for decisive action” to stop the “kidnapping” of US citizens, Whelan said in a phone call from the Russian labor camp, where he is serving a 16-year sentence on espionage charges, something he vehemently denies. does.

“This is not an issue of Russia against me; it is an issue of Russia against the United States, and the United States needs to respond to this hostage diplomacy situation and resolve it as quickly as possible,” Whelan said, who is a former Marine.

He told CNN at the time that he had a “positive feeling” about the meeting between US and Russian leaders, calling it “a good step in the right direction”.

Whelan – who is also an Irish, British and Canadian national – was detained at a Moscow hotel in December 2018 by Russian officials who alleged he was involved in an intelligence operation.

Ahead of Wednesday’s summit, Paula and Joy Reid urged Biden to work towards a deal to secure the release of his son, who recently contracted COVID-19 in a Russian prison .

In a statement previously obtained by CNN, the two wrote, “They are being held as pawns to take advantage of concessions in a political dispute between our two countries, in which they have no part, and are now home in Texas It’s time to come.”

Reid was sentenced in July 2020 to nine years in prison for endangering the “life and health” of Russian police officers in a brawl after a night of drinking. He and his family have denied the allegations, and US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan has called the trial “theatre of the absurd”.

CNN’s Betsy Klein, Zahra Ullah and Matthew Chance contributed to this report.


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