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Lawmakers are calling for release of Michigan man detained in Russia

paul whelan standing in front of a body of water
Whelan family

Some members of Congress want the Russian government to release an American citizen from jail  - or bring forward evidence against him.

Paul Whelan of Novi was arrested in late December when he was visiting Moscow for a friend's wedding. He's been jailed since then on espionage charges. 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers held a press conference on Thursday calling on Congress to pass a resolution condemning the Russian government for detaining Whelan without producing any evidence to support his detention - and for repeatedly extending his pre-trial detention. 

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) said Whelan's health appears to be deteriorating.

"There's also evidence that he may have been abused in his detention as well," said Peters. "But clearly this is a very bad situation that is only getting worse."

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow said Whelan needs to come home.

"The Russians have produced no evidence of wrongdoing by Paul," said Stabenow. "Meanwhile he is sick. He is languishing in prison with no access to justice."

The group said the Russian government has impeded officials from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow from getting access to Whelan.

At the press conference, Whelan's sister, Elizabeth Whelan, said her brother is an ordinary American and this could happen to anyone.

Others who spoke at the press conference were U.S. Representatives Haley Stevens (MI-11), Tim Walberg (MI-07), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Bill Keating (MA-09), and Andy Levin (MI-09).

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