Despite their support for the American government’s agreement to a prisoner exchange that resulted in the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner but left Paul Whelan behind, the brother of an American detained in Russia since 2018 said on Thursday that his family fears he won’t be released for years.
According to his family and the US government, Whelan, a corporate security executive from Michigan, has been imprisoned on spurious espionage allegations.
According to American officials, Russia rejected adding Whelan to the Griner agreement, saying it was a “one or none” choice.
David Whelan, his brother, said their parents spoke with Paul Whelan on Thursday; this was a very different conversation from their usual calls, which centered on Whelan’s day-to-day activities and news from the family’s home in Michigan.
David Whelan stated, “I think we all recognize that the math will not allow Paul to return home any time soon unless the U.S. government can find concessions.
Therefore, I believe that we are unsure of how to proceed.
He stated that there is no way for the family to determine the possibility “that he will ever be free other than by serving his complete time.”
Paul Whelan, 52, was given a 16-year prison term in 2020. According to David Whelan, the circumstance “makes hope a little bit more difficult.”
The family’s suffering does not alter David Whelan’s assessment that the Biden administration “made the correct option” in exchanging infamous Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner.
According to Whelan, the news of Griner’s release was delivered by a U.S. official to his sister on Wednesday at her home in Massachusetts.
He claimed that this decision lessened the pain of learning that his brother would remain in prison.
After a trade in April for Marine veteran Trevor Reed excluded Paul Whelan, pressure to include him in any trade for Griner grew.
On Thursday, Paul Whelan expressed his disappointment to CNN that “more has not been done” to ensure his release.
In a phone interview, he stated, “I would say that if a message could go to President Biden, this is a serious issue that needs to be rectified fast.” “My luggage is ready. I’m eager to return home.
All I need is an airplane to pick me up.
As he announced the agreement for Griner’s release, Paul Whelan will not be forgotten, Biden promised.
Unfortunately, Biden said that Russia is treating Paul’s situation differently than Brittney’s for unjustified reasons.
And although we haven’t been successful in getting Paul’s release yet, we’re not given up. Never will we give up.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated later at the State Department that Russia “continues to push on bogus charges” against Whelan.
It was either one American or none, according to Blinken: “This was not a decision of which American to bring home.”
“I sincerely wish we could have flown Brittney and Paul home together today.”
Republican politicians from many states, including Michigan Rep. Tim Walberg, who expressed his heartbreak for the Whelan family, condemned the arrangement for leaving Whelan in Russia.
In a statement, Walberg stated, “They deserve better.
David Whelan rejected claims that the notoriety of Griner was responsible for her release and expressed his hope that Griner’s fame would continue to draw attention to his brother and other Americans detained abroad.
“Paul needs our support. He needs our assistance to survive, according to David Whelan. His mental health is what I’m concerned about.
How can you maintain mental stability in that kind of circumstance? not only for a day but also for months and years.
We’re approaching the end of four years, and I think he may still have to deal with this for years.