A mission to defend rights of Canadian citizens abroad
On February 19, 2019, officials of the Embassy of Canada in Moscow visited a detained former US Marine, Paul Whelan, who holds Canadian, US, UK and Irish citizenships and is accused of espionage.
According to TASS, the information on the Canadian diplomats’ visit was received from Paul’s twin brother David Whelan who lives in Canada. Embassy representatives spent an hour and a half in a detention centre with Paul Whelan. And, as reported, “they were able to confirm that his health and situation” remained “unchanged since the U.S. consular visit the previous week.”
Whelan was also offered the opportunity to sign a letter of attorney which is essential for his family members to “be able to help handle his personal life while he is unable to do so,” said his brother as quoted by TASS.
In turn, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow reports that despite being granted regularly scheduled consular visits to Paul Whelan, the detainee has not been allowed to sign a Privacy Act Waiver needed for the diplomatic mission to release any information about the case. On February 22, Andrea Kalan, the Embassy’s Spokeswoman, directly accused the Russian Investigative Committee of the delay via her Twitter account. However, on February 19, TASS reported that the waiver had been already sent to the U.S. Embassy by mail.
Meanwhile, on February 22, a Russian court ruled to extend Whelan’s detention for three more months to fully complete the investigation. On February 26, the defence filed an appeal to challenge this court ruling and to request house arrest or release on bail for him. No date for the appeal’s hearing has been defined so far.