Biden raises case of Paul Whelan at Putin summit, says he has hope

Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin
Photo credit Denis Balibouse - Pool/Keystone via Getty Images

(WWJ) -- President Joe Biden says he is hopeful for the release of Michigan native Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia since December 2018.

Whelan was convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison for allegedly spying, though he claims he was a tourist and has done nothing wrong.

In a much-anticipated summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Biden says he brought up the case of Whelan -- as well as another former Marine, Trevor Reed, jailed for allegedly assaulting a police officer -- and he says he has hope for them.

“To the families of the detained Americans -- it came up and we discussed it. We’re going to follow through with that discussion. I am not going to walk away on that,” Biden said.

Whelan’s family has been pleading with Biden to help secure his release, with his brother, David Whelan, telling the Detroit News he was pleased the president brought up the issue during the summit.

“I thought it was very positive,” he said. “That was just so, so hopeful. It was just such a great thing to see.”