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Tipsheet

Biden Ripped For Bringing Home 'Celebrities Over Veterans'

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

President Joe Biden took a victory lap at the White House Thursday morning as he announced the return of WNBA player Brittney Griner in exchange for Russian "Merchant of Death" Viktor Bout. Griner was held in a Russian prison for 10 months after being arrested and convicted for alleged possession of cannabis oil at the airport in February.

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But former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan is still being held in a Russian prison and wasn't part of the deal. He's been in custody for five years. 

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The Whelan family is devastated Paul was again left behind and says the situation is a hopeless "catastrophe" for the former Marine.  

"I am so glad Brittney Griner is on her way home. As the family member of a Russian hostage, I can literally, only imagine the joy she will have, being reunited with her loved ones, and in time for the holidays. There is no greater success than for a wrongful detainee to be freed and for them to go home, The Biden administration made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn't going to happen," David Whelan, Paul Whelan's brother released in a statement. "This time, US government officials let us know in advance Paul would be left behind [12/7/2022], unlike last April when they left him. That early warning meant that our family has been able to mentally prepare for what is now a public disappointment for us. And a catastrophe for Paul."

"And now what? How do you continue to survive, day after day, when you know that your government has twice failed to free you from a foreign prison? I can't imagine he retains any hope that a government will negotiate his freedom at this point It's clear that the US government has no concessions that the Russian government will take for Paul Whelan. And so, Paul will remain a prisoner until that changes," he continued. "I think, as the use of wrongful detentions and hostage diplomacy continues around the globe, it's clear the US government needs to be more assertive. If bad actors like Russia are going to grab innocent Americans, the US needs a swifter, more direct response, and to be prepared in advance."

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