Detained American Paul Whelan is happy the Biden administration was able to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner from a Russian penal colony, but he's "greatly disappointed" that his release wasn't able to be negotiated.
“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," Whelan said in a phone interview with CNN from the penal colony where he is being held in a remote part of Russia. “I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here.”
He added that 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.”
Griner was freed in exchange for convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout, who was serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States. She was detained in Moscow on drug-related charges in February after a marijuana vape pen was discovered in her luggage and later sentenced to nine years in prison.
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“I am so glad that Brittney Griner is on her way home,” Paul Whelan's brother, David, said in a lengthy statement. “As the family member of a Russian hostage, I can literally only imagine the joy she will have, being reunited with her loved ones, and in time for the holidays.
“There is no greater success than for a wrongful detainee to be freed and for them to go home,” David Whelan continued. “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.”
President Biden said that the U.S. has not given up on securing Whelan’s release.
“We did not forget about Brittney, and we have not forgotten about Paul,” Biden said. “This was not a choice of which American to bring home.”
Read more at Yahoo! News.