U.S. Ambassador to Russia calls for Paul Whelan’s release

The new U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan speaks to the media after visiting Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine who was arrested for alleged spying in Moscow on Dec. 28, 2018, in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr)

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UPDATED 6:08 PM PT — Thursday, January 30, 2020

The new U.S. ambassador to Russia said a former U.S. Marine, who is imprisoned in the country, is suffering in confinement. On Thursday, Ambassador John Sullivan met with Paul Whelan, who’s been in custody in Russia since the end of 2018 on allegations of spying. Sullivan is now calling for his release.

“It’s time for this nightmare to end, and for Paul to go home,” he said.

Sullivan stated there is “no evidence and clearly no crime” in the case. He added Whelan has been denied proper medical attention.

“His health has clearly deteriorated since he was arrested over 13 months ago,” said the ambassador. “He hasn’t received medical treatment for those medical problems which…are extremely uncomfortable and potentially a serious threat to his health.”

FILE- In this Aug. 23, 2019, file photo, Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine who was arrested for alleged spying in Moscow on Dec. 28, 2018, speaks while standing in a cage as he waits for a hearing in a court room in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

The 49-year-old Whelan has maintained his innocence and said he’s been mistreated during his imprisonment.

He has been isolated from his family for more than a year now. Sullivan noted it can take as much as six months to receive letters from home.

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Ambassador Bill Taylor, who testified in impeachment inquiry, leaving Ukraine post

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Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat for Ukraine who testified before the House in the impeachment inquiry, plans to leave his post by the end of the year, a person familiar with his plans told Fox News on Tuesday.

Under the terms of the Vacancies Act, Taylor could have remained in his position until Jan. 8 — and even longer under his current State Department contract — but will hand over his responsibilities to the Deputy Chief of Mission on Jan. 1 and leave Kiev the following day.

Ambassador Bill Taylor and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, testify before a House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. 

Ambassador Bill Taylor and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, testify before a House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. (Reuters)

Taylor’s future plans with the State Department were not immediately clear, nor was it clear who Taylor’s permanent replacement would be.

Taylor was serving as the acting ambassador, having never been formally confirmed by the Senate. Ukraine has been without a permanent ambassador since Marie Yovanovitch was fired from the position in May.

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Taylor, a Vietnam War veteran who previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine under President George Bush, was tapped by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to replace Yovanovitch in June.

Taylor made headlines last month while testifying before the House Intelligence Committee regarding his knowledge of President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine that have set in motion an impeachment investigation.

In September, Taylor texted U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland saying it was “crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

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Hours later, Sondland replied: “The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”

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