Washington, DC – President Joe Biden traded notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, better known as the “Merchant of Death,” with Russia on Thursday in exchange for the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, but left U.S. Marine veteran Paul Whelan behind in prison.
Griner, who was in Russia playing basketball for UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) off-season, was arrested in a Moscow airport in February after she was caught carrying marijuana vape cartridges into the country, FOX News reported.
The American basketball player was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison in August after pleading guilty to a drug charge in July.
The Biden administration initially offered to trade Bout for Griner and Whelan, who was sentenced to 16 years in a Russian prison on espionage charges in 2018, FOX News reported.
But then something changed, and President Biden agreed to swap just Griner for the arms dealer who was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he was convicted of conspiracy to kill Americans in 2011.
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022
Whelan’s family congratulated Griner on her release in a statement but called out the Biden administration for failing his brother, again, FOX News reported.
“There is no greater success than for a wrongful detainee to be freed and for them to go home. The Biden Administration 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 happen,” the remaining prison’s brother, David Whelan, said.
“She will be reunited with her family. Brittney is free. And Paul is still a hostage. But how many more times do I need to write that?” the statement continued.
“Despite the possibility that there might be an exchange without Paul, our family is still devastated. I can’t even fathom how Paul will feel when he learns. Paul has worked so hard to survive nearly 4 years of this injustice,” David Whelan wrote.
Meet Brittney Griner & Marine Paul Whelan.
Both were convicted in Russian courts on dubious charges.
Both serving multi-year sentences in Russian prison.
Brittney hates America
Paul served America
Guess which one Biden traded a terrorist to free?
Semper fi Paul pic.twitter.com/tuP1R6AZpf
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) December 8, 2022
This is a developing story and we will keep you updated. For all of our updates, follow us on Facebook and go to your news feed preferences under your settings, then select that you want to see more of The Police Tribune’s posts in your news feed. Otherwise, Facebook may not show you updates.