On Thursday, Joe Biden announced his administration has released “The Merchant Of Death,” a deadly Russian arms dealer, from prison in exchange for WNBA basketball player, Brittney Griner.
Griner was arrested in Moscow earlier this year for carrying devices containing marijuana. The Phoenix Mercury player was sentenced by Russian authorities to a nine-year prison sentence.
Biden made the announcement on Twitter saying, “Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.” He continued by saying, “She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home, after months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances. Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones and she should have been there all along. This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release.”
American diplomatic efforts to obtain Grier from captivity since her arrest in February. However those efforts have been disrupted by Russia’s war with Ukraine.
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
However Griner’s release is overshadowed by news of the exchange did not include the release of Paul Whelan. Jailed since December 2018, Whelan has remained in Russian captivity on charges of espionage. The US government has maintained these charges are baseless.
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
In a statement, Whelan’s brother, David, said, “glad that Brittney Griner is on her way home.” He also said, “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. His hopes had soared with the knowledge that the US government was taking concrete steps for once towards his release. He’d been worrying about where he’d live when he got back to the U.S.”