Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia on espionage charges.
Jailed American Paul Whelan has called on President Joe Biden to “aggressively discuss and resolve” the issue of detaining US citizens for political purposes when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of the month.
Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence on espionage charges, which he categorically denies.
In an exclusive telephone interview with CNN, he noted the need for “immediate decisive action” to stop the “kidnapping” of American citizens.
“This is not a question about Russia versus me; this is a question about Russia versus the United States, and the United States should respond to this situation with diplomacy by taking hostages and resolving it as quickly as possible,” he said.
Whelan told CNN that he is “positive” about the upcoming meeting between the US and Russian leaders, calling it “a good step in the right direction.”
“I know that President Biden and (Secretary of State Antony) Blinken are working to secure my release and return home,” he said.
Blinken raised the case of Whelan, as well as another American detained in Russia, Trevor Reed, during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in late May. During the talks in Geneva, Biden and Putin are expected to “discuss the full range of pressing issues,” including arms control, Ukraine, and human rights violations, the White House said.