Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan is still in Russian custody amid Brittney Griner being released. The WNBA star is currently on a plane on her way back from Russia as part of a one-for-one trade deal involving convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Whelan has been in Russian custody since 2018 when he was sentenced to 16 years in prison on espionage charges. Griner had been in Russian custody since February after authorities discovered cannabis in her luggage.
Many online are upset that he is still over there, but his family is singing a different tune.
“There is no greater success than for a wrongful detainee to be freed and for them to go home. The Biden Admin made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to..” the family said, per Nick Kalman of Fox News.
David Whelan, Paul’s brother, said they got an early warning for this “public disappointment.”
“That early warning meant that our family has been able to mentally prepare for what is now a public disappointment for us. And a catastrophe for Paul,” David Whelan said, per NBC News. “I do not know if he is aware yet, although he will surely learn from Russian media.”
Biden’s administration had initially sought the release of both Griner and Whelan in exchange for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, but it seems like Russia may have wanted way too muhc in return for that to happen.
The Biden administration ultimately agreed to exchange Bout for Griner alone, leaving Whelan behind in Russia.
Biden says Griner will be back in the United States on Friday. He also vowed that his administration will continue negotiating for Whelan’s release, adding that Russia is holding him for “totally illegitimate” reasons.WANT MORE FROM TOTALPROSPORTS? FOLLOW US ON GOOGLE NEWS.