Daughters of a British aid worker captured in Ukraine told Sky News they are “preparing for the worst”.
In an exclusive interview with Sky News, Courtney Coman, 17, and her sister Chelsea, 20, say they don’t believe their father “will be coming home anytime soon”, after being accused of being a “mercenary” by the Russian government.
Paul Urey, 45, was apprehended at checkpoint outside the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia on April 25, alongside Dylan Healy, 22, a fellow British volunteer.
The men worked independently of humanitarian organizations and Urey’s daughters did not know he was in Ukraine until they learned of his capture.
“We’re just dealing with it for now. We don’t really know anything, like whether he’s going to be okay there, whether he’s coming home or going back to Ukraine as a prisoner exchange,” says Courtney.
“We just don’t know, so we’re preparing for the worst.
“But hoping for the best,” adds his sister.
“It might seem selfish to other people, but I feel a little bit like ‘why did you go and do that?'” says Chelsea.
“We don’t know what’s going on, you don’t know if he’s safe, you don’t know where he is. We’re more upset than anything.”
Courtney believes her father didn’t tell them where he was going because “we would have told him not to go, and then he would have listened and not gone.”
The latest messages, exchanged between Courtney and her father via WhatsApp, were about phone top-ups and her getting a tattoo.
The messaging service shows the last time Urey’s phone connected to the app was on the morning of April 25, the day he was captured.
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The girls have not received messages since.
“It’s the feeling of helplessness, there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Courtney.
“We are your children and we are struggling to get any information.”
Since Urey’s capture, a video of him has been broadcast on Russian television.
In it, Urey, who is in handcuffs, says he traveled to Ukraine because he did not believe the British media portrayal of the Russian invasion.
But his daughters told Sky News that they believe their father was under pressure to make those statements.
“He would never say anything against his own country, ever,” says Chelsea.
“The video wasn’t something we wanted to see, but at the same time we’re happy because we know he’s okay, he’s alive.”
The UK government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it was still trying to find out information about Urey and Healy’s arrests.