Paul Whelan, U.S. Marine veteran who has been imprisoned in Russia for several years on what critics have said are false charges, was attacked Tuesday by another inmate, his family said. 

David Whelan said his brother was assaulted at a labor camp Tuesday afternoon. He said his brother was working at a sewing table when a new inmate blocked part of the production line and Paul asked him to move out of the way. 

“After repeated requests, the prisoner hit Paul in the face, breaking Paul’s glasses in the process, and attempted to hit him a second time,” David Whelan said in an email statement. “Paul stood up to block the second hit and other prisoners intervened to prevent the prisoner continuing to attack Paul.”

BIDEN PRISONER EXCHANGE FOR BRITTNEY GRINER LEAVES BEHIND MARINE VETERAN PAUL WHELAN — AGAIN

Paul Whelan Russia

Paul Whelan, a US marine veteran accused of espionage and arrested in Russia in December 2018, stands inside a defendants’ cage as he waits to hear his verdict in Moscow on June 15, 2020. He was reportedly attacked in a Russian prison on Tuesday, his family said.  (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

He said his brother Paul has asked the prison warden if he can speak with local prosecutors for a possible investigation of the alleged attack. 

“He is also concerned that these sorts of attacks can occur any time and, due to the various sharp implements in the workshop including the shears the other prisoner was holding today, could escalate into a far more serious attack,” David Whelan said. “Paul is a target because he is an American and anti-American sentiment is not uncommon among the other prisoners.”

A State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital the agency was concerned over the incident. 

“We are concerned about reports that Paul Whelan was assaulted by another prisoner in IK-17 on November 28,” the spokesperson said in an email. “The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has been in contact with Paul via phone and we understand he is receiving medical treatment following this incident.”

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Russia prisoner Paul Whelan

Paul Whelan, a former US marine accused of espionage and arrested in Russia in December 2018, stands inside a defendants’ cage as he waits to hear his verdict in Moscow on June 15, 2020. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

The State Department also called on Russia to release Whelan and to ensure all U.S. citizens being detained there are safe. 

“We urge the Russian government to ensure fair treatment and appropriate medical care for all U.S. citizens detained in Russia. Russia should immediately release Paul Whelan,” the spokesperson added.”

Whelan was arrested in December 2018 on charges of espionage and spying for the U.S. government and sentenced to 16 years. He and the U.S. have denied the charges as the 53-year-old remains imprisoned at a labor camp in Russia’s Mordovia republic.

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On Dec. 28, 2018, while staying in a hotel in the Moscow area, Whelan was arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service. At the time, he had reportedly arrived in the Russian capital to attend the wedding for a friend and act as a travel guide for the groom’s family. However, Russian officials claimed that Whelan had met with an unnamed Russian citizen who gave the former Marine a USB drive containing classified material.

He was left out of the highly publicized prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Russia last year in which WNBA player Brittney Griner was freed from Russian custody for the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, nicknamed the “Merchant of Death.”



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