Former US Marine Paul Whelan has spoken out from Russian prison after four years behind bars, slamming the Biden administration for failing to secure his release in the prisoner swap that freed WNBA star Brittney Griner.
Whelan stated that he was being held by Russia as a hostage’ and asked for the White House’s help to bring him home. He faces another 12 years in Russian penal colony.
Whelan was not part of Thursday’s controversial prisoner swap, which saw Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman help broker Griner’s release in exchange for a Russian arms dealer known as the ‘Merchant of Death.’
Republicans have accused President Joe Biden for favoring celebrities over veterans. Whelan, who is being held in Russia on espionage accusations that his family and US government deny, is left to languish behind bars.
Whelan said, “I am deeply disappointed that more hasn’t been done for my release, especially when the four year anniversary is coming up,” CNN In a phone conversation from the remote Russian penal colony, where he is serving a 16 year sentence.
He stated, “I was arrested because of a crime that never took place.” “I don’t know why I’m still here.”
Paul Whelan spoke out from Russian prison saying that he is disappointed that the Biden administration failed to secure his release. He You can see it at the 2019 court hearing
Griner (left), was released from Russian prison in exchange for Viktor Bout (right), also known as the “Merchant of Death”.
Whelan stated that he hoped Biden’s administration would do all they could to get him home, regardless what price it might have to pay.
He said, “I would suggest that President Biden could send a message that this is a precarious position that must be resolved quickly,”
“My bags are packed. I’m ready for home. Whelan added, “I just need an aircraft to come and take me.” “It is quite obvious that I am being held hostage.”
Griner, a WNBA star, has been imprisoned in Russia for marijuana-related drug convictions. Viktor Bout, a notorious Russian arms dealer, will be returned the US.
The negotiations were reportedly mediated by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the United Arab Emirates’ President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, according to Arab News.
A senior administration official declined to comment on MBS’s role, but stated that the U.S. will “continue to leverage partners around the globe” to release unjustly detained Americans.
The swap happened at Abu Dhabi airport, where Griner and Bout had to walked past each other to reach their respective parties on the airport tarmac, Russian state media reports.
Griner was all smiles as she approached the American delegation, according to the US official.
Republican Rep. Mike Waltz from Florida was a Green Beret and asked: “Where is U.S. Marine Paul Whelan who has been held unjustly by Russia for far longer?” Celebrities are better than veterans
Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said it was ‘unconscionable’ to leave behind Whelan: ‘Merchant of Death – that’s the nickname of the prisoner Biden returned to Putin. He He was convicted of conspiring against the murder of American law enforcement officers.
This is a gift to Vladimir Putin that could endanger American lives. He said that leaving Paul Whelan behind is unconscionable.
Republicans, including veterans Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Rep. Mike Waltz, said they were concerned that the Biden administration would be more interested in securing the release celebrities.
Republicans, including veterans and others, quickly condemned the decision to bring Griner home with Whelan still in custody. They claimed it was a dangerous precedent
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (an Illinois Republican and former Air Force pilot) also lamented.
“So a basketball superstar is released, we can rejoice, but what about Paul Whelan?” He tweeted that he had been unjustly detained for many years.
IK-17: Whelan is held prisoner in a Russian gulag
Exterior of IK-17 penal colony
Whelan is currently being held in penal colony IK-17 in the remote Russian region of Mordovia.
His family claims that the conditions are very grim and they fear for their safety.
Whelan claimed that prison guards wake him every 2 hours at night, taking his picture and ripping his blanket. This is a pretext to prevent him from fleeing.
Prisoners are often required to pay for their supplies, including toothpaste, toilet paper, and fresh food.
Although he may not be very well-known, he is innocent. This is a dangerous route.
Whelan is currently being held in the remote Russian region of Mordovia in the penal colony IK-17. His family claims that conditions are very grim and they fear for his safety.
Paul’s brother David Whelan said that Brittney Griner was on her way home and that they were happy for her. However, he expressed disappointment that Paul is still in prison four years after he was arrested on espionage charges.
David said that even though there was a possibility of an exchange with Paul, our family is still devastated.
“I can’t imagine how Paul will feel when I tell him. Paul has worked so hard to endure nearly four years of injustice,’ he said.
“His hopes had soar when he saw that the US government was taking steps to free him. HeHe had been worried about where he would be living when he returned to the US.
Paul Whelan was accused of spying on a December 2018 trip to Moscow. He was convicted in 2020 and sentenced to 16 year imprisonment. He All charges were denied by the accused, as well as his family and the US government.
Griner was sentenced to nine years imprisonment after pleading guilty in February to bringing cannabis products through Russian customs.
David said, “I am so happy that Brittney Griner’s on her way home.” There is no greater achievement than for a wrongly detained person to be released and allowed to go home. The Biden Administration made a right decision to bring Ms. Griner back and to make the deal that was feasible, rather than waiting to see if it would happen.
David said that the US government needed to be more assertive, as the use of hostage diplomacy and wrongful detentions continues around the world.
He added that Russia could use bad actors like Russia to seize innocent Americans. The US must have a quicker, more direct response and be prepared in advance.
Paul Whelan is a former US Marine, accused of spying. He was detained in Russia during a hearing at a Moscow court in 2019.
Paul Whelan is seen with his parents, 83-year-old and 85-years old, calling for his release in a photo of the family.
Brittney Griner and Cherelle were photographed together last year, before Brittney was arrested in Russia for cannabis-related drug offenses
David stated that unlike in April when he was not included in an earlier prison exchange, ‘US officials let us know in the advance that Paul would be leaving’.
“This early warning has allowed our family to mentally prepare ourselves for what is now a public disappointment. He added that it was a catastrophe for Paul.
He It was noted that this year would be the fourth Christmas Paul’s parents, ages 83 and 85, spent with their son in Russian prison.
He wrote, “The likelihood that our fathers will see our son again diminishes every day his wrongful imprisonment continues,”
“Increasingly, it worries me that Paul won’t live 12 more years in a Russian labor camp. He David said that he had tried to stay healthy, but he was unsure how long he could keep going.
The family maintains an ongoing relationship with the police. GoFundMe campaign To raise money for Paul’s legal expenses, and to support him in Russian prison. Inmates are charged with items such as toothpaste and toilet paper.
Thursday’s statement by President Joe Biden indicated that Russia is treating Whelan’s situation differently than Griner’s. This makes it difficult to secure his release.
“Sadly, and for completely illegitimate purposes, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s. We are not giving up, even though we have not been able to secure Paul’s release. He stated that he would not give up.
Biden celebrates with Griner’s wife Cherelle in the Oval Office after securing the WNBA star’s release from a Russian penal colony
PICTURED (from left-to-right): Biden; Griner’s wife Cherelle; Harris; and Blinken
On Thursday morning, President Joe Biden addressed America from the White House to discuss Brittney’s release and the current conditions of Americans detained abroad.
Biden stated that he had not forgotten about Paul Whelan. ‘We will continue to negotiate with good faith for Paul’s freedom.
Who is Viktor Bout, the Russian arms dealer and dubbed “The Merchant of Death”?
Viktor Bout was nicknamed the “Merchant of Death” because of his rise at the top of international arms trade.
He was born in Tajikistan and is a former Soviet military officer. He spent time in Mozambique during the civil war. After that, he worked for the KGB in Angola.
He After the fall of the Soviet Union, many people turned to the arms industry.
Eric Holder, Attorney General, called Bout “one of the most prolific arms dealers in the world.”
According to Amnesty International, Bout has armad human rights violators in Angola and Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Conflicts linked to Bout include the First Liberian Civil War, the Angolan Civil War, the Yugoslav Wars, the 2006 Lebanon War, the Second Libyan Civil War and the Second Congo War.
The New York Times Bout was accused of being involved in arms shipments to Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terrorist groups.
Between 1992 and 1998, it has been reported he helped strip out $32 billion worth of Ukrainian weaponry after it broke with the Soviet Union.
In an interview with The Times, he stated that he was known to fly African heads-of-state in and out countries.
Bout was close friends with Mobutu Sese Seko, the Congolese dictator.
Apart from being an arms trader, he was also an avid photographer and wildlife enthusiast. He often spent time with Pygmy Tribes in the African jungles.
According to him, ‘What I really want now is to take one my helicopters to Russia Arctic north to make wildlife films and National Geographic and Discovery channel films,’ he told The Times.
He began his business transporting South African gladiolas.
He is currently serving his sentence in Marion, Illinois at the United States Penitentiary. He has five years remaining in prison.
A senior US defense official cited by NBC News similarly said that the US tried to secure Whelan’s freedom, but that Russia refused to release him without getting a Russian spy in return.
“They are treating him different. They claim that he is an investigation case in espionage. They said it was one of two options [Griner] Or none,” the person stated.
Whelan’s attorney stated that dialogue regarding a possible prisoner swap is continuing, as reported by the state-run Interfax news Agency.
The 32-year-old Griner was facing nine years in a Russian penal colony, where she was expected to toil in sweatshop conditions while sewing for 12 hours or more per day.
The president addressed the nation from the White House Thursday morning. He said that Griner was in good spirits after returning home from Russia, where he had been held under ‘intolerable circumstances’.
‘Britney is an unbeatable athlete, a twice Olympic gold medalist for Team USA. She With characteristic grit, incredible dignity, and enduring mistreatment at a Russian show trial, She Biden stated that America represents the best America – the best of America.
Biden spoke to Griner by phone on Thursday, along her wife Cherelle who was at the Oval Office for this occasion.
Biden’s authorization for Griner to be freed by him underscored the growing pressure on his administration to get Griner back, especially after the recent resolution to her criminal case and her subsequent transfer from a penal colony.
Bout, 55 years old, was one the most wanted men in the world prior to his 2008 arrest. He was also known as ‘the Merchant of Death’ and the Sanction Buster’ due to his ability get around embargoes on arms.
Bout, who sold weaponry to rebel states, rebel groups, and murderous warlords across Africa, Asia, South America for nearly two decades, was the world’s most prominent arms dealer.
Experts in Russian security services believe that Moscow’s continued interest in Bout is a strong indication of Russian intelligence ties.
Biden stated that the White House is ‘in close contact’ with Whelan’s family and shared their mixed emotions over Griner’s return.
“We’ll keep negotiating with good faith for Paul’s freedom – I guarantee that. To the family, I guarantee that. The president assured him.
“I urge Russia to do so, to ensure that the Paul’s health is maintained and that he is treated humanely until he can be brought home. I don’t want any Americans to ship wrongfully held persons and one more day if that person can be brought home.
The president did not mention Marc Fogel, an American teacher from Oklahoma, who is being held in Russia on marijuana-related charges.
A senior administration official was asked directly about the role of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince in the negotiations. He said: “In the course getting to this happy conclusion with respect to Brittney, as well as in the course working to secure Paul’s freedom, as we continue do, we have and we’ll continue, to lean on our partners around the world, to give us ideas and to impress upon Russians how important is it to us to solve these types of cases.
“And we appreciate those partners doing their best to help us. And that’s all I’ll say.
Two days after a US federal judge rejected a lawsuit against him, MBS and other Saudi officials over Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder, reports claim that MBS assisted in brokering the deal.