(UnitedVoice.com) – In 2018, Russian authorities detained Paul Whelan on suspicion of spying. Two years later, a court sentenced the Canadian-born former US Marine to 16 years in prison for the alleged offense. Another American being held in the country has now been released, but Whelan is still in Russia.
On Thursday, December 8, the Kremlin released WNBA player Brittney Griner in exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout who was about halfway through a 25-year prison sentence in the US. When the US Government secured the release of the basketball player from prison, some began questioning why it left Whelan overseas.
According to a statement by the White House, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime is treating Whelan differently. For the second time, the administration made a prisoner swap with the country that left him there.
NEW: A senior U.S. official tells @NBCNews they tried everything they could to get Paul Whelan out, but “they are treating him differently. They say he is an espionage case. They said the choice was either one [Griner] or none.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 8, 2022
It’s unclear why the Russians are treating Whelan differently than other prisoners. He was out of the Marines for a decade when Russian government forces detained him. The Marines separated from him after a court-martial and a bad conduct discharge in 2008. At the time of his arrest, he worked as a corporate security expert when Putin’s government accused him of espionage.
Former National Security Advisor John Bolton has said his former boss, ex-President Donald Trump, refused to swap Whelan for Bout. The White House has called the charges against Whelan “totally illegitimate” and said it’s working on bringing him home.
Whelan holds citizenship in the US, Canada, Ireland, and Britain.
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