Washington—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today delivered the following remarks on the House floor in support of H.Res. 552, calling on the Government of the Russian Federation to provide evidence of wrongdoing or to release United States citizen Paul Whelan:
"As we stand here on the House floor, an American citizen is being wrongfully held in a Russian prison without trial— without any evidence of his supposed crime… denied his rights...suffering, deprived of the medical attention he desperately needs.
"This is how Vladimir Putin is treating Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen who has been unjustly imprisoned in Russia for almost a year. There’s been no evidence offered to show that Mr. Whelan has done anything wrong or anything to deserve this horrific imprisonment with no end in sight.
"Paul’s family in Michigan wants to see him returned home safely. And Congress must stand with them and demand justice.
"H.Res 552 sends a strong message from Congress. It calls on Russia to either offer up some legitimate evidence that justifies why they have Mr. Whelan in prison... or immediately release him and let him come home to his family in the United States.
"We cannot accept this current situation to go on any longer... Mr. Whelan languishing in a cell with no understanding of why he’s being subjected to this horror.
"Sadly, this injustice is what life is like in Putin’s Russia. There is no independent judicial process. There are no rights for defendants. There is abuse...mistreatment... corruption. It’s critical that we all keep this in mind.... That’s why it’s so important for the United States to stand strong in condemning Putin and upholding our commitment to the rule of law.
"I want to thank Ms. Stevens for her hard work in authoring this measure. As Mr. Whelan’s congressional representative, she has been tirelessly pushing for Paul’s release, as has the entire Michigan delegation."
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