It’s apples and oranges.
WNBA star Brittney Griner’s release to American custody after spending nearly 10 months as a prisoner in the Russian penal system on marijuana-related charges is tarnished with Paul Whelan still in custody there.
Her release was secured via a prisoner exchange in which U.S. authorities released convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
It has been reported Bout will go strait to Vladamir Putin to help Russia secure more weapons.
Griner's release renewed attention on Whelan, another American citizen detained in Russia.
Griner has displayed the propensity not to stand and cover her heart during the national anthem. Despite her non-patriotic actions President Biden said she “represents the best about America.”
Whelan, a Marine Corp veteran has been in prison there since late 2018 held on espionage charges, which he denies.
Some critics of Biden have faulted him for not bringing Whelan back, often citing Whelan's service in the Marines as part of that argument. Whelan's family, for their part, have been supportive of Griner's release.
It was in December of 2018 while on a trip to attend a friend's wedding in Russia, Whelan was detained by Federal Security Service (FSB) agents.
Russian authorities alleged he possessed a computer flash drive containing classified information.
Whelan said the drive had been given to him by a friend, as part of a sting operation, and he was under the impression it contained wedding photographs.
In a trial the U.S. criticized as unfair, Whelan was convicted of spying and sentenced to 16 years in a Russian penal colony.
The administration should work harder to secure Whelan’s release.
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