Washington—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today released the following statement on the conviction and sentencing of Paul Whelan to 16 years’ hard labor by the Russian courts:

“My heart breaks for Paul Whelan and his family as they deal with today’s outrageous and devastating news, which comes after Paul endured more than a year and a half of detention on baseless charges and a secretive trial without a proper defense. This conviction and sentencing are an evisceration of Paul’s human rights; a travesty of justice; and an insult to freedom, democracy, and the rule of law around the world. Paul’s life is not a bargaining chip, and the treatment he’s received is despicable even for a dictator like Putin.

“Yet while Putin destroys the lives of Americans like Paul and his family, President Trump continues his bizarre courtship of the Russian President.

“I implore the President to stop cozying up to our adversary and ramp up American efforts to bring Paul home.”

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