The sister of Paul Whelan, a U.S. Marine veteran captured in Russia, on Wednesday expressed frustration over President Joe Biden calling the wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is also being held in the country, but did not make contact with their family.
Elizabeth Whelan tweeted a screenshot of the reading of Biden’s call with Cherelle Griner, the wife of WNBA star, adding that she was “crushed”, the Whelan family still did not receive a call from the president not.
Whelan was arrested in Moscow in 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in prison on charges of espionage, according to The Associated Press.
“Still looking for that press release that says @POTUS spoke to anyone in OUR family about #PaulWhelan, who was illegally detained in #Russia for 3.5 years,” Whelan tweeted.
“I am devastated. If he wants to talk about securing Paul’s release, he needs to talk to the Whelans! What should we think ?! ” Whelan continued.
Whelan spoke to Nation World News’s “The Lead” on Wednesday afternoon and explained that she did not “disapprove of the Griner family and their supporters”.
“I think our concern is, you know, why the outreach to some families and not others. There are 55-plus families who would like the same amount of attention, ”Whelan said.
Whelan added that her brother wrote to Biden several times, as well as Donald Trump when he was president, and members of Congress.
“I was stunned this morning to hear this call and it made me wonder: Should we insist on a meeting with the president? Is that what it’s going to take to bring my brother home? What I would very much like to see is a functioning process that did not require it, ”Whelan continued.
David Whelan echoed his sister and told Nation World News’s “New Day” on Thursday he was glad to hear of the call to Griner, but lamented the administration’s “inconsistency”.
“I was delighted that President Biden and Vice President Harris took the time to speak with Ms. Griner,” Whelan said.
“I think the frustration to the extent that it’s out there is directed at the contradiction of how the U.S. government treats the families of wrongful detainees,” Whelan added.
Biden spoke to Griner’s wife on Wednesday and also sent a letter to Griner himself.
“The president called Cherelle to assure her that he was working to secure Brittney’s release as soon as possible, as well as the release of Paul Whelan and other U.S. citizens who were illegally detained or held hostage in Russia and around the world,” he said. White said. House said in a statement. “He also read her a draft of the letter the president is sending to Brittney Griner today.”
Griner allegedly pleaded guilty Thursday to drug charges, but added she did not intend to act illegally, according to The Associated Press.
If convicted, Griner will face up to 10 years in prison.
While the White House is working on both cases, it is unclear whether the government can conclude an agreement that will release both Americans simultaneously or whether each will be released individually, according to the Associated Press.
Paul Whelan was left out of a prisoner exchange the U.S. made with Russia in April, which led to the release of Trevor Reed, a U.S. Marine veteran.
Reed told Nation World News’s Jake Tapper he initially thought Whelan was coming back to the US with him and was disappointed to realize that was not the case.
“The fact is that the United States had to get him out, and we have to get him out at any cost,” Reed said.