The family of imprisoned former United States Marine Paul Whelan. May 4, 2022; Washington, DC, USA; The father of recently released from Russian jail and former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, Joey Reed, right, and Elizabeth Whelan, left, the sister of Paul Whelan, a former US marine accused of espionage and arrested in Russia in December 2018, wait with other family members of American hostages and wrongful detainees as they launch the Bring Our Families Home Campaign during a demonstration in Lafayette Park in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 to call on the White House to take decisive action to bring their loved ones home.. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY

The administration of American president Joe Biden made the controversial decision Thursday to exchange a convicted Russian arms dealer for imprisoned WNBA superstar Brittney Griner.

Biden has faced an avalanche of criticism for leaving imprisoned former United States Marine Paul Whelan out of the prisoner swap. Whelan’s family issued a clear statement on the matter shortly after hearing of the Russians releasing Griner.

“There is no greater success than for a wrongful detainee to be freed and for them to go home. The Biden Admin made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, & to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to [happen].

“Brittney will soon be back in the aSocialrms of her loved ones… these past few months have been hell for Brittney and for … Cherelle…she is in good spirits… and deserves space, privacy and time to heal.”

The Russian government sentenced Griner to nine years in a maximum-security penal colony for women after she plead guilty to charges she attempted to bring a small amount of hashish oil aboard a domestic flight with her Russian Premier League team in January.

The Russians had denied Griner’s appeal for freedom in late October and only recently admitted to moving Griner to the maximum security prison weeks after doing so. Biden recommitted himself to Griner’s freedom after his party’s surprising performance in the 2022 midterm elections.

[Nick Kalman]