Dec 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Paul Whelan's brother says Biden "made the right choice" with Griner swap

US-British Paul Whelan, a former US Marine accused of espionage and arrested in Russia in December 2018.

Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, is accused of espionage and arrested in Russia in December 2018. Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

David Whelan, brother of detained American Paul Whelan, said in an MSNBC interview Saturday that President Biden "made the right choice" in choosing to bring WNBA star Brittney Griner home from Russia.

The big picture: Earlier this week, the United States exchanged infamous Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner, determining it was the only deal on the table, Axios' Dave Lawler writes.

Driving the news: David Whelan told MSNBC’s Zinhle Essamuah that Biden is “100% engaged on bringing Paul home” and that the president made the right choice with the options on the table.

  • "An American should come home if they can come home," Whelan told MSNBC.
  • He said that the White House does not need more pressure to bring his brother home, either.
  • "I think what they have done is they’ve essentially run through the resources that they thought they might be able to get the Russians to accept as a concession," David Whelan said on MSNBC. "I mean, this is all about extortion. Paul was taken as a political prisoner and Russia is trying to extort something from the U.S."

Zoom out: Whelan's family said that they were told by the Biden administration that the former Marine would not be included in the exchange, NBC News reports.

  • As celebrities and politicians have rallied for Griner's release, the Whelan family has been quick to remind Americans about Paul Whelan's situation too.
  • In fact, Elizabeth Whelan criticized the Biden administration earlier this year for not speaking with the family despite having conversations with Griner's family.

What we're watching: Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that more deals between Russia and the United States are possible, Axios reports.

Go deeper ... How the Biden admin says Brittney Griner's release happened

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