Thank you for your interest to help Jimmy.
We don’t ask for anything from Jimmy’s friends, only from our government. Our focus is to do whatever we can to help our son and to keep you and other interested parties abreast of Jimmy’s status as well as any progress we make in getting him home. That can be done by visiting this website occasionally and look at the UPDATE and PRESS tabs for the latest.
If you are serious about helping, the best person you can write to in Washington is the following:
Wendy R. Sherman - Deputy Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 'C' Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520
Mordovia, Russia - December 29, 2021: This will probably be my last update for 2021, and frankly, I was hoping it would be my last update forever. I was optimistic that the Prisoner Exchange program promised by President Biden back in June 2021, would have taken place before the end of this year and Jimmy would be home for the Holidays. It looks like that is not going to happen and the State Department cannot comment on the status of these negotiations.
However, Jimmy called this morning with the news that an official at the US Embassy in Moscow advised him that the Prisoner Transfer request Jimmy submitted in 2017 has been approved by the Russian Ministry of Justice. Further, the Embassy representative remarked that final approval by the Russian MOJ is contingent on a confirmation that the US Department of Justice will enforce the remainder of Jimmy’s sentence in a US Federal Penitentiary. We are all waiting for that document from the USDOJ. We don’t expect this will be a problem and will advise you when that happens. Hopefully 2022 will be the year when Jimmy is released as he enters his 6th year of Russian incarceration.
MOSCOW, Nov. 13, 2021 (Channel 24): A Russian TV station has written a story about the Mordovia prison camp, IK-17, where Jimmy is incarcerated. The entire story was first shown on Russian TV on Sat., Nov. 13 and posted on YouTube. Please understand this reporting is pure propaganda to offset recent reports of the torture going on in Russian prisons. You can verify this with a quick search on Torture in Russian Prisons. The purpose of showing this video is for you to see Jimmy and what he has been doing for the past 5 years.
Please click on https://youtu.be/JkYGqdqUcvI to see the complete story. For English sub-titles do the following before starting the video:
Click on YouTube Settings;
Select Russian ( Auto Generated);
Select Auto Translate;
Start the video.
To select the part referring only to the Americans, advance to the time mark 16:35 and end at 23:07.
If you have any comments or questions, contact email@example.com. Thank you for your continued interest in Jimmy.
MOSCOW, Nov 10, 2021 (Reuters): U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin may meet for talks in person in early 2022 and speak by video conference before the end of this year, Russia's Kommersant newspaper reported on Wednesday, quoting sources.
Biden met Putin in Geneva in June with relations at post-Cold War lows and troubled by an array of issues including Ukraine, Syria and Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's jailing.
The Kommersant report said the two sides had not yet agreed the details of a new round of talks, but that the preliminary plan was to hold a video conference by the end of this year, followed by a meeting in-person early next year.
The newspaper said the two leaders would discuss a set of agreements they reached at the Geneva summit and that the talks would have a wide-ranging agenda.
The Kremlin told reporters on Tuesday there was no firm timeframe yet for a new round of talks, but that both Moscow and Washington agreed they were needed.
"There is a understanding that a meeting is needed, that communication between the two presidents should be continued," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Comments following a meeting in Moscow between Under Sec. Nuland and Dep. Foreign Minister Ryabkov
On October 12, 2021, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey #Ryabkov met with @UnderSecStateP Victoria Nuland. He emphasized that the hostile anti-Russian actions will not remain unanswered, although #Moscow does not seek to further escalate tensions.
MOSCOW (AP) October 13, 2021:— Russia offered the U.S. on Tuesday to roll back several rounds of sanctions that have hampered the activities of their diplomatic missions, and they agreed to hold another round of talks to discuss a resolution to their diplomatic tug-of-war.
The Russian proposal was made during the talks between Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. Nuland arrived in Moscow on Monday on a three-day visit for talks that the U.S. State Department said would touch on a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues. The U.S. Embassy tweeted Nuland’s description of her meetings as “constructive” but didn’t give any details. Discussions will continue at lower levels of government between experts in each field.
New York October 1, 2021: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s news conference to sum up the high-level meetings week at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, New York, September 25, 2021. Among the many question addressed by Minister Lavrov, the subject regarding a prisoner exchange came up twice. These are excerpts from that interview:
Question: As the UN General Assembly is meeting in New York, the Southern District Court in New York has again denied Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko’s appeal. He continues to be held in American dungeons, as does Viktor Bout. There have been occasional reports in the media about their possible exchange for Americans. Whose court is the ball in? How realistic is the exchange scenario?
Sergey Lavrov: It is difficult to make any predictions or promises on behalf of the United States. We have tried many times to change our citizens’ situation by invoking the Council of Europe Convention on Transfer of Sentenced Persons. The United States is a party to this Convention, just as we are. They categorically refuse to hear anything, including our arguments that both Yaroshenko and Bout (as well as a number of others) have been actually lured into a trap by provocations. They have been literally kidnapped, which is against the law. In Bout’s case, the Thai laws were violated – not all procedures were followed; with Yaroshenko, it was Liberia’s. There was also a case where they took Roman Seleznev in the Maldives in a gangster manner – they just put him on an aircraft and he was flown away. Nobody knew anything. Such methods of provoked attacks on our people are being used to achieve something. Either to persuade them to cooperate, or for some other reason. This is unacceptable.
About prisoner exchanges – Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden touched upon this matter in Geneva, among other things. They agreed that the respective Russian and US security services in charge of this matter will try to negotiate some mutually acceptable options. So far, we haven’t come to any agreement. The United States is only interested in getting its citizens back and does not seem to take our interests very seriously. They are interested in Paul Whelan, who is convicted of espionage. He was caught red-handed. This crime cannot be even compared with the reasons Yaroshenko and Bout got their sentences in excess of 20 years in prison. We are ready to talk. There are other American citizens as well. For some reason, they are not of interest to the administration in Washington. But talking is always better than not talking.
Question: Trevor Reed's family believes he was unjustly indicted and sentenced to an unreasonably long term. Could you comment on these statements as well?
Sergey Lavrov: I have already covered Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan, for that matter. Paul Whelan was arrested on espionage charges. He was caught red-handed. Trevor Reed was arrested for attacking and hitting a police officer several times. I am not sure how many years in prison people in the United States would get for violent attacks against a police officer. I think, many. Konstantin Yaroshenko and Viktor Bout were simply lured by deception into a deal where they used an aircraft for some purpose, which got them implicated into a case of arms and drug smuggling. They were sentenced to over 20 years in prison without having hurt anyone or having any intention to violate international rules for trading in particular types of goods. So, our US colleagues need to be consistent, if they are offended over someone being arrested here. The same standards should be applied to all situations. In the case of an attack on police officers, see what is happening at the trial on the “Capitol attack.”
MORDOVIA Sept 23, 2021: Members of the US Embassy visited the prison on Tuesday, Sept. 21. Ambassador Sullivan was part of the U.S. delegation to meet with American prisoners, but avoided Jimmy once again. Geoff Martineau, Chief-American Citizen Services, explained that Amb. Sullivan would only visit political prisoners, not those who committed crimes. We have confirmation that Amb. Sullivan did find time to meet with Paul Whalen. We often wonder why he goes to the prison if he does not want to meet with all American prisoners.
Mr. Martineau told Jimmy that there is a media black-out on anything to do with the prisoner exchange by both countries. That's all he can say on this subject. The Embassy claims they know nothing on this subject and that all discussions are through the State Department in Washington. His assessment is that nothing will be reported until the day the prisoners are notified who is going home. It is now over 3 months since Presidents Biden and Putin negotiated an agreement to exchange prisoners. Jimmy was told when the exchange was announced that it could take anywhere from 3 to 6 months, so stay clam. Naturally Jimmy feels that an announcement could happen any day between now and the end of the year. We can only hope and pray he is included.
Sept. 9, 2021: We spoke with Jimmy today and he is concerned that almost 3 months after the June meeting between Putin & Biden, there is no activity regarding the proposed prisoner exchange. He watches Russian TV news at night for any news on this topic. We searched Russian TV News and found the following update:
MOSCOW, Aug 25 (Reuters): Russia said on Wednesday that Washington's "unconstructive" stance meant there was little reason to expect a prisoner exchange between the nations that could see two U.S. nationals held in Russia released, the Interfax news agency reported.
The comments were made by Evgeny Ivanov, a deputy foreign minister. U.S. nationals Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed are currently being held in Russian prisons. (Reporting by Anton Kolodyazhnyy; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
This is not encouraging news but we remain ever hopeful that Biden will agree to release the Russians being held here in the US. We are not sure why he wants to keep these Russians locked up, especially since their health is failing and their incarceration is getting costly since the US offers full health benefits. We seem to be at the mercy of Putin's compassion and hope he will do the right thing, especially for Jimmy who has now spent almost 5 years incarcerated on bogus charges. The Russian expense to hold prisoners is not that great since medical care is rare. Jimmy complained he gets no dental care despite pain he has in his teeth. Jimmy also complained about his back, shoulder and knee pain and there is no relief. We can only hope he is sent home soon.
July 4, 2021: Jimmy called to advise us that the list of American prisoners being considered in a prisoner exchange has been increased to 24 prisoners and that he is quite certain his name is on the list of 24. He doesn't expect all 24 will be coming home at once and could take as long as 6 months. Our hope is that Jimmy will be home for Christmas and we will pray to that end.
MOSCOW June 16, 2021: FSIN transferred to the Foreign Ministry a list of 17 Americans in custody
In the institutions of the Federal Penitentiary Service of the Russian Federation, 17 US citizens are currently being held. This list has been transferred to the Russian Foreign Ministry, a member of the Public Council in the service of Eva Merkacheva told Interfax.
"Nine of them are being held in colonies "including James V. Wilgus", eight in pre-trial detention centers," Merkacheva said. She did not rule out that the transfer of the list is associated with a possible exchange of prisoners between countries.
As expected, the topic of a possible exchange of prisoners between the Russian Federation and the United States will be touched upon at the meeting of the presidents of the two countries, which is taking place on Wednesday, June 16, in Geneva.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that he was ready to discuss with his American counterpart the possibility of exchanging prisoners held on the territory of the two countries, but at the same time spoke in favor of talking about concluding an appropriate agreement between the two countries.
June 15, 2021: The probability of an agreement on the exchange of prisoners following the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden, scheduled for June 16, is. However, it is not yet possible to predict what the exchange will be. This opinion in an interview with "Evening Moscow" was expressed by political scientists, commenting on Putin's statement in an interview with the American TV channel NBC.
Director of the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation for the Study of the United States at Moscow State University, Yuri Rogulev, said that there are many Russians imprisoned in America, as well as Americans serving sentences in Russia. And, of course, they are all convicted under different articles.
- We have a student who fought with the police and received a sentence (Trevor Reed - approx. "VM"), is an American spy (Paul Whelan — approx. "VM"). Different people and on different occasions sitting. Of ours in the United States - Bout (Russian businessman Viktor Bout, convicted in the United States - approx. "VM") and Yaroshenko (Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, serving time in an American prison — approx. "VM"), who are convicted of a crime in the United States," Rogulev said.
He also noted that the exchange of prisoners is a legally difficult matter. According to the expert, the terms of the convicts and the severity of their crimes are different, and "it is always easier to change a spy for a spy."
- Whether the courts, the judicial system will agree, I can't say. Not such a simple matter, — said Rogulev.
Historian-Americanist Ivan Kurilla, in turn, suggested that in the negotiations "they will remember Bout, but they do not want to give him away." The expert noted that there are many problems between Russia and the United States, but the topic of exchange is discussed most acutely.
"On the verge of war": what Putin and Biden will agree on June 16. "It looks like the Cold War and as if we are changing prisoners, which does not characterize the state of current Russian-American relations very well," the expert said.
Given that, he also noted, that the issue of prisoner exchange is on the agenda, it is likely that both sides are referring to one of the convicts.
- Since we agreed to include this issue on the agenda, then both sides mean someone... I don't want to guess, but I expect that probably someone will be exchanged. But I'm not sure of everyone they wanted. Probably, there are "principled" people in the lists, "Kurilla added.
14 June 2021, 14:18: Putin allowed the exchange of prisoners between Russia and the United States
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he does not exclude the exchange of prisoners between Russia and the United States. The head of state said this in an interview with NBC News, a fragment of which was shown to Sky News on June 14.
At the same time, the Russian leader pointed out that many more Russians are detained in the United States than in Russia - Americans.
Answering the question about the Americans convicted in Russia - former Marine Trevor Reed and Paul Whelen - Putin pointed out that Reed was a "troublemaker" and a "drunkard" who started a fight, the material emphasizes.
On June 9, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Whelan could not be included in the list of citizens mutually transferred to his homeland to be served his sentence, since he was convicted under a particularly serious article. At the same time, the diplomat stressed that the Russian side constantly reminds the United States of its readiness to go the way of using the mechanism of the 1983 Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Convicted Persons. According to him, this is not an exchange, but a different format of interaction.
On May 20, US Secretary of State Blinken called on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to release Whelan and Reed, convicted in Russia.
Earlier that month, Blinken, during a telephone conversation with Lavrov, noted that US President Joe Biden intends to resolutely protect his citizens and act in defense of his interests in response to Russia's policy, which allegedly harms Washington.
In January, the Russian Foreign Ministry reminded the United States that Whelan was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 16 years in prison, and Reed will spend nine years in prison for attacking law enforcement officers. So the department commented on the publications in the Western press about the alleged preparation of the exchange of citizens serving time between Moscow and Washington in both countries. Here is the actual link from the Russian newspaper:
June 10, 2021. On June 2, CNN interviewed Paul Whelan, the American being held in a Russian prison with Jimmy. On behalf of Jimmy and other Americans, Paul is pleading with President Biden to consummate a deal that will result in the release of all American prisoners in Russia. Here is a link to that interview which describes what they are going through and what they hope will happen: https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2021/06/02/paul-whelan-biden-putin-summit-chance-pkg-newday-ldn-vpx.cnn
May 20, 2021.
Meetings are underway between Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during the Arctic Meetings in Iceland. Among the topics to be discussed in private meetings will be the Americans being held in Russian prisons. Publicly they mention Paul Whalen who is with Jimmy, but privately Jimmy has been advised by the US Embassy personnel that an effort will be made to include Jimmy in these discussions.
05/19/2021 07:35 PM EDT: Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the margins of the Arctic Council Ministerial. The Secretary noted that the United States sought a more stable and predictable relationship with Moscow. To that end, Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Lavrov discussed Russia’s Arctic Council Chairmanship and the importance of cooperation given our shared stake in the region. The Secretary also reiterated President Biden’s resolve to protect U.S. citizens and act firmly in defense of U.S. interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies. The Secretary made clear that Russia should release American citizens Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed so they can return home to their families.
May 5, 2021: MOSCOW — Amid sinking relations, President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin appear to be seeking a June summit while Biden is in Europe for talks with allies. Biden is scheduled to attend a Group of Seven summit in Britain from June 11 to 13 and then travel to Brussels for E.U. talks and a NATO summit on June 14.
Russia’s Kommersant newspaper, citing anonymous sources, reported that the White House has proposed June 15 or 16 to meet Putin in a third country. Austria and Finland have offered to host. Putin aide Yury Ushakov told state media that the summit could happen in June, but no firm decision has been made. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that the Kremlin received Biden’s proposal for a summit “positively.”
If Blinken and Lavrov can work out the details, the Presidents will sign the agreement, hopefully with Jimmy included. Perhaps then Jimmy will awake from this nightmare and put his life and career back together again. We should know by the end June. You’re prayers are always welcome, but an appeal from you to Pres. Biden and Secretary Blinken could be persuasive enough to make the difference. If you need an address or email, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 22, 2021. We just received word that Jimmy has been released from solitary confinement after 118 consecutive days in solitary on charges of drug possession. It was an attempt by prison officials to keep Jimmy in prison forever by planting illegal drugs in a package mailed to him. His attorney looked into the matter and proved to the investigator this was a setup. Jimmy has been cleared of all allegations.
March 4, 2021. Our attorney visited Jimmy on March 4, 2020. Jimmy is still in solitary confinement. He read the messages sent by you. He thanks all of you for taking the time to write and for your prayers. The attorney will be visiting again on March 18. If you want to write to Jimmy, email your letter to email@example.com for delivery to Jimmy. In his current situation, all he has to read are his letters, which he reads over and over.
Dear James and Bella, March 4, 2021
I just wanted to update you on our current activities on behalf of Jimmy.
This week, we called and submitted a formal written request to the prison warden to speak on the phone with Jimmy, and to get an update on whether and why he is still in punitive isolation.
We continue to follow-up with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on our protest to his treatment, including calls and emails. They have not yet formally responded, which is the usual case here.
We also have followed-up with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get an update from the Russian Ministry of Justice regarding the prisoner transfer. Again, they have no response at this time.
To end on a positive note, even if we are unable to get to talk with Jimmy by phone, we are planning a trip to see him in person in the coming weeks. We are in the early stages of planning but are aiming to see him in April.
Sincerely, Laura Keith- Vice Consul Moscow ACS, U.S. Embassy
.Jimmy’s attorney is going to write to the State Duma (A duma is a Russian assembly with advisory or legislative functions) of the Russian Federation to differentiate punishments for non-violent crimes from violent crimes against minors. At this time there is no such differentiation in Russian articles of punishment. In sentencing Jimmy, the Judge had no latitude and had to apply the law. Article 132 (b) 4 states that a charge of indecent exposure must be treated as a crime of sexual assault and rape if the victim is 14 years or younger. Her only latitude was the time of sentence which required 12 – 20 years. The Judge used her judgement and applied the lowest sentence. If this appeal is successful, the sentence could be changed to time served and Jimmy could be released and sent home. We have authorized the attorney to proceed with this appeal and hope the Duma rules in Jimmy’s favor.
January 11, 2021. Jimmy is still in solitary confinement. He was placed in solitary on his birthday, December 4, 2020. That was the first time we were not able to wish him a happy birthday since he was born. Due to solitary, this was also the first time in his life we did not wish him a Merry Christmas or Happy New Year. As much as we are disappointed, we can only imagine how much Jimmy is suffering. Among other potential issues, he has now been totally isolated from any English speaking person for more than 5 weeks. We don't know why he was subjected to his longest period in solitary and, after several calls to the prison by the US Embassy, all we could confirm is that he is in solitary. The Russian authorities would give no reason for this punishment or how long he would be confined.
It appears the Russian government is trying to break Jimmy’s spirit and we can only hope he will continue to fight through this effort. We know from phone conversations over the past 4 years of imprisonment, Jimmy always talked about getting through this crisis, remaining strong, and looking forward to getting back to rebuilding his career.
Jimmy knows he has certain rights, even in a Russian Labor Camp, as continuously reminded by the US Embassy, and has always fought for those rights. In 2018 he filed a Transfer of Prisoner application with the US Dept. of Justice and the Russian Ministry of Justice in accordance with a treaty between the two countries. The USDOJ reviewed the case and immediately approved his request. To date we have had no reply from the Russian MOJ, despite follow up letters from the USDOJ requesting a response. The Russians have no interest or incentive to entertain such a request. After all, prisoners provide free labor. Since the USDOJ cannot get a response, Jimmy decided to write letters to 10 different officials in Washington, DC as a follow up to letters written by us. After Jimmy spent limited funds buying stationary, envelopes and adding the proper postage, he gave the 10 letters to the prison administration to mail. The authorities must open them for translation to Russian so the authorities can monitor his thoughts. Jimmy inquired almost weekly as to when the letters were mailed. At the end of November he was told that all 10 letters were lost and never mailed. About a week later he was removed from the general population and placed in solitary confinement indefinitely. Just another example of the violations of Jimmy’s human rights.
We don’t know for sure why Jimmy was confined to solitary and look forward to the day he is able to call us and explain what happened. When he tells us we will post it here on TWNS. Thanks for your prayers and interest in Jimmy's welfare. Jim & Bella Wilgus