Early Thursday a deal was announced that allowed WNBA star Brittney Griner to be released.
In return, the United States released International Arms Dealer Viktor Bout, also known as the “Merchant of Death.”
Still left in Russia is a former marine, Paul Whelan.
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Whelan was detained in a Moscow hotel back in 2018 – he was accused by the Russians of being involved in an intelligence operation. The United States and his family deny these allegations.
In 2020, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
CNN spoke to Whelan after the news of the trade swap for her release was announced.
Whelan said that he is happy that Griner was released but “disappointed” that the Biden administration has not done more to secure his release.
Detained American Paul Whelan told CNN he is “disappointed” the Biden administration has not done more to secure his release, meaning he’s been left behind in Russia after fellow detained American Brittney Griner was freed on Thursday.
“I am greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release, especially as the four year anniversary of my arrest is coming up. I was arrested for a crime that never occurred,” he said in an exclusive phone call from the penal colony where is being held in a remote part of Russia. “I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here.”
Whelan said he was happy that Griner was released but told CNN he “was led to believe that things were moving in the right direction, and that the governments were negotiating and that something would happen fairly soon.”
When asked if he was surprised not to have been included in the swap for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, he told CNN he was.
Biden was called out by many for not securing the release of Whelan.
But Republican Rep. Mike Waltz, a former Green Beret, asked: ‘Where is U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly held by Russia for far longer? Celebrities over veterans?’
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a former pilot in the U.S. Air Force, also cried foul.
‘So a basketball star is released, we can celebrate, but what about Paul Whelan? An American unjustly detained for years,’ he tweeted.
‘May not be high profile but he is innocent. This is a dangerous road.’
Biden gave up a Russian arms dealer in exchange for an anti-American WNBA player, while leaving US Marine Paul Whelan to rot in a Russian prison. This is an abomination. Our country is run by incompetent scumbags.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) December 8, 2022
Brittney Griner being released in exchange for a convicted arms dealer.
What about Retired U.S. Marine Paul Whelan?
— Mayra Flores (@MayraFlores2022) December 8, 2022
Paul Whelan served as a cop in Michigan for 15 years.
Paul Whelan enlisted in the Marines in 1994.
Paul Whelan deployed to Iraq in 2004.
Paul Whelan is an American hero.
On December 28, 2018, Paul was accused of “espionage” in Russia⁰Jail ever since
Biden did NOTHING to free him pic.twitter.com/1SUqnhN9QQ
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) December 8, 2022
Should the Biden administration secure the release of Whelan as well?