The United States and Brittney Griner got some good news on Thursday morning when the White House announced that the WNBA superstar would be returning home after nearly 10 months in Russian custody after she was convicted on drug charges when she mistakenly brought prescription hashish oil into Russia. But even though securing Griner’s release was a big win for Joe Biden and the United States, they failed in one huge regard.
As CNN reports, even though Brittney Griner is returning to the United States as part of a prisoner swap, she is coming alone. She will not be joined by fellow Russian prisoner Paul Whelan, who is a former United States Marine that the United States also determined was “falsely imprisoned.”
Griner is returning back to the United States as part of a prisoner swap that will send notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who has been nicknamed “The Merchant of Death,” back to Russia, as has been speculated for several months. The United States had been pushing for Whelan to be a part of the deal, but he was not included in the prisoner swap with Bout.
A similar prisoner swap was used to get U.S. Marine veteran Trevor Reed back to the United States and it will likely take a separate deal to get Whelan back.