Brittney Griner, WNBA star, has asked her fans to send Paul Whelan letters to their support while he awaits the United States’ release from a Russian prison.
The release of Brittney Griner by President Joe Biden was celebrated earlier this month. She had been released from prison after being swapped with Viktor Bout (a.k.a. Russian arms dealer). “Merchant of Death.” U.S. Marine Paul Whelan was held in Russia for four year on charges of espionage. He had hoped that he would be released as part of the swap. Griner posted a handwritten note to Instagram urging her followers to show their love for Paul Whelan and write him letters. Griner said that she was lifted by the letters she received while in prison.
“Your letters helped to keep me sane during a time when I was feeling vulnerable and full of regret. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. She wrote that she never lost hope because of you.
She continued, “Your letters were also larger than just uplifting me.” “They demonstrated the power of a group effort. We can accomplish difficult things together. That’s what I am living proof of. My family is complete and we have the joy of spending the holidays together, thanks to your help. There are still too many families that have loved ones wrongly detained.”
Griner also included a mailing address to Paul Whelan’s relatives and requested that her supporters write to it.
She wrote, “I hope that you’ll join us in writing to Paul Whelan” and continue to advocate for the rescue and return of other Americans to their families.”
Some Republican lawmakers believe Viktor Bout committed too many crimes to merit Griner’s swap. According to Kevin Hern (R-OK), Biden may have helped “both sides” of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. This suggests that Bout might return to illegal arms trading in order to aid Vladimir Putin.
The Hill noted that Paul Whelan’s brother David praised the Biden administration for being “much more involved in wrongful detentions.”
Paul’s sister Elizabeth Whelan told the Hill that the business with the ex-president, basically saying he declined an offer to bring Paul back, was a surprise.
“We must deal with the present and future. It’s not worth it that many administrations have kept Americans overseas… you just need to deal with the person in office at this moment. “We are fortunate that we have the commitment of this administration to bring Paul back and that’s where our energy is being directed,” she said.
The Biden administration defended the swap, claiming that Bout is not a security threat to the United States. Samuel Ramani, an associate fellow with the Royal United Services Institute, stated to the Hill that Bout could be “a threat down in the line.”
Ramani stated that it was possible for him to work with terrorist groups because he is an amoral character and will sell arms or work alongside anyone.