(RepublicanWire.org) – Retired Marine Paul Whelan is speaking out after the release of WNBA player Brittney Griner from Russian prison.
Whelan has been detained in Russia since 2018 after Russian authorities claimed he was involved in an intelligence operation.
“I am greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release, especially as the four year anniversary of my arrest is coming up. I was arrested for a crime that never occurred,” he said in an exclusive phone call with CNN from the Russian penal colony where he is being held.
Whelan added, “I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here.”
While Whelan said he was happy for Griner’s release, he explained he was “led to believe that things were moving in the right direction, and that the governments were negotiating and that something would happen fairly soon.”
When asked whether it surprised him that he was not included in the swap for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, Whelan said he was.
According to Whelan, he was told because the Russians claimed he was a spy, “They’ve put me at a level higher than what they did with Trevor (Reed) and Brittney.”
He explained, “That raises a lot of concerns because none of it is true. And they’re trying to get out of United States, what the United States may not be able to provide, but this is basically political extortion.”
Acknowledging he has been placed in a different category than Griner, Whelan said, “They’ve always considered me to be at a higher level than other criminals of my sort and for whatever reason, I’m treated differently than another individual here from a Western country that’s also on a charge of espionage. So even though we’re both here for espionage, I’m treated much differently than he is, and my treatment is also much different than others held for espionage at other prisons.”
Additionally, Whelan expressed his hope that President Joe Biden and his administration “would do everything they could to get me home, regardless of the price they might have to pay at this point.”
He added, “I would say that if a message could go to President Biden, that this is a precarious situation that needs to be resolved quickly.”
Twitter users expressed disappointment and felt Whelan should have been included in the trade.