Thursday morning, the Biden administration secured the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner from Russia in exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout, also known as the “Merchant of Death.” While the swap marks a victory for Griner and her family, the administration’s deal failed to release United States Marine Paul Whelan, who has suffered in Russian detention for four years now.
Griner, on the other hand, is now back in the United States after spending less than 10 months in a penal colony. Rightfully so, Whelan and his family are disappointed and dissatisfied with the Biden administration’s inability to strike a deal that included his release, too.
After news broke about Griner’s transfer, Whelan spoke to CNN from the detention center he is currently residing in, discussing the administration’s efforts and his potential release.
“I have to say I’m greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release,” Whelan said. “Especially as the four-year-anniversary of my arrest is coming up. I was arrested for a crime that never occurred.”
“I would say that if a message could go to President Biden, that, you know, this is a precarious situation that needs to be resolved quickly. And I would hope that he and his administration would do everything they could to get me home regardless of the price they may have to pay at this point.”
Tragically, Whelan also added that he was ‘shocked’ that the administration was not able to secure his release in a swap featuring one of the world’s most prolific killers.
“I was led to believe that things were moving in the right direction,” Whelan said, “and that the governments were negotiating and that something would happen fairly soon.”
Unfortunately for the Marine, who is being held on trumped-up espionage charges, a release does not seem likely any time soon.
Former President Donald Trump reacted to Biden’s trade, sharing the popular sentiment that too much was given up just to return Griner to America: