Paul Whelan confident US working toward his release from Russian prison, CNN says

Paul Whelan, a Novi resident and former Marine who has been held in Russia since 2018, told CNN in an exclusive interview on Sunday that he feels "positive and confident" that the U.S. is working to secure his release.

"There will be an end to this and I hope it’s coming sooner than later," Whelan said in a part of the interview by State Department reporter Jennifer Hansler. "But it is depressing on a daily basis, you know, going through this."

Hansler said she spoke to Whelan, 53, by phone from a remote Russian prison camp where he is serving a 16-year sentence. Whelan was convicted in 2020 on charges of espionage that he, his family and the U.S. government say are false and were trumped up against him.

More: Report: US exploring potential options to secure Paul Whelan's release from Russia

Whelan has expressed disappointment in the past that the U.S. government has managed to secure the release of other prisoners, including WNBA star Brittney Griner, in prisoner swaps while he has been left behind. But Hansler said Whelan seemed more upbeat during the call on Sunday that the Biden administration had made his release, as well as that of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, a priority.

"I feel that my life shouldn’t be considered less valuable or important than others who have been previously traded and I think there are people in (Washington) D.C. that feel the same way and they’re moving toward a compromise and resolution to this as quickly as they can," Whelan said.

Earlier this month, there were reports that the U.S. was looking into options for having Whelan released.

Hansler said Whelan hasn't been entirely cut off from mentions of his case in the news media, saying he and other prisoners were able to watch his sister, Elizabeth Whelan, address the United National Security Council on his captivity last month, as well as see President Joe Biden call for his release in remarks last month at the White House Correspondents Association dinner.

Contact Todd Spangler: Follow him on Twitter@tsspangler.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Paul Whelan confident US working toward release from Russia, CNN says