As news of Britney Griner’s release calms down, critics are taking a closer look at the deal in which the WNBA player was released in exchange for the infamous arms deal Viktor Bout, also known as the “Merchant of Death.”
Some specifically question why Marine Corps veteran Paul Whelan was never released. One such critic is former President Donald Trump, who called the deal “stupid” and “unpatriotic” in a Truth Social post.
Paul’s brother David Whelan hit back at Trump’s comments, claiming his attitude was “disappointing” for a former president.
“I think what President Biden did was take care of Americans in danger and bring home Americans he could bring home. It’s a shame to have such a point of view,” Whelan said.
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Whelan also added that “all Americans should be happy,” and congratulated Griner on being released from unjust detention and the release of the WNBA player and her family.
Paul Whelan has been detained in Russia for over four years in a concentration camp in the Russian Republic of Mordovia. In 2018, while President Trump was in office, a Marine veteran was arrested and convicted of espionage and spying for the U.S. government, facing up to 16 years in prison.
David Whelan has accused President Trump of taking a “disappointing” view of the deal because the Trump administration was unable to release Paul.
“My brother begged from prison to tweet about him while President Trump was in office, but President Trump didn’t,” Whelan said on Saturday’s “Cavuto Live.”And now Paul. Talking about, it’s really aggressive.”
“The U.S. government has not been involved in Paul’s case for the first two years. They were still focused on terrorist groups and hostages, the old-fashioned approach,” said David Whelan.
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The Britney Griner vs. Victor Bout swap is the second time Paul Whelan has left during the Biden administration. The first was in April 2022 when Marine Corps veteran Trevor Reed was traded for Russian drug lord Konstantin Yaroshenko.
“If the president does nothing and later claims he did, I will call him. If Paul is still in custody under another president, I will also call President Biden after his term. To do.”
Many other critics have opposed the deal, questioning why the Biden administration approved a one-for-one deal between a basketball player and a Russian arms dealer.
Texas Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw tweeted his thoughts and asked the Biden administration for answers as to why Paul Whelan was left out of the deal.
“I don’t think this was a simple ‘choose him or her’ situation. But if it is, you should choose the man who served our country, Paul Whelan. We are in this administration.” We should get an explanation from them soon,” Crenshaw tweeted.
Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., also shared his criticism on Twitter on Thursday. “Where is US Marine Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly detained in Russia for far too long? Is he more famous than a veteran?”
“This is the second prisoner exchange President Biden has left Paul Whelan behind,” tweeted Rep. Tim Wahlberg, R-Mich. “Paul, a Marine and native of Michigan, was wrongfully imprisoned for four years. The Whelan family is truly heartbreaking. They deserve better.”
David Whelan responded to Republican critics. Despite his own frustration at his brother’s unjust detention and pleas to continue to see Paul released, Whelan urged leadership to “solve problems, not complain.” asked.
“Doing something to bring them home is a good first step. And if those in power in Congress and agencies of the U.S. government don’t like it, how can they fix it?” I’ll have to come up with,’ he said.
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David Whelan has been vocal about the government developing better policies to deal with Americans unjustly detained in hostage diplomacy. He continues to seek his brother’s release.
“I think we’re starting to see more decisions being made, more confidence to try new things, more attempts to be creative, again.” said Whelan. “Not all of them do well. But if they bring Americans home, I think it’s good.”
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“Paul’s case was on the side, not before or after Britney’s, and the U.S. government did everything it could to get Americans home.”
Fox News’ Greg Norman, Phillip Nieto, Anders Hagstrom, Ryan Gaydos and Nick Kalman contributed to this report.