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Tags: elizabeth whelan | paul whelan | russia | brittney griner

Elizabeth Whelan to Newsmax: 'Difficult' Hearing Brother To Stay in Russia

By    |   Saturday, 10 December 2022 02:04 PM EST

Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Paul Whelan, the Marine veteran remaining detained in Russia, said Saturday on Newsmax that while the family is thrilled whenever a wrongfully detained American comes home, it's an "understatement" to say that it was difficult to hear that their family member was once again remaining behind while WNBA star Brittney Griner was being freed.

"This is the second time now that Paul has been left behind in a deal that's brought an American home," Whelan said on Newsmax's "America Right Now." "Of course, our family is thrilled any time a wrongfully detained American comes home. That's a win. I mean, there are over 60 Americans being held in 19 different countries around the world right now by hostile foreign regimes. So anybody coming home is good."

But still, she said she wants her brother to come home, too; and there are a lot of questions about why that still hasn't happened.

Paul Whelan has been in Russian custody since his arrest on espionage charges in 2018. He is serving a 16-year sentence in a Russian penal colony after his conviction in 2020.

His sister, though, said she does have confidence in the Biden administration's claims that they are trying to free him.

"I frequently have words with people within the government, and I do speak to them every week," Whelan said. "I know that it's Russia that's trying to cause as much trouble as possible by separating my brother with these false espionage charges."

However, neither the Biden administration nor that of former President Donald Trump have succeeded in Paul Whelan's freedom, and his sister told Newsmax that it's "really difficult trying to figure out how to get around that."

Russia's Federal Security Service arrested Whelan in a Moscow hotel room, saying he had a computer flash drive containing classified information, according to Reuters.

He maintains that he was in Russia for a friend's wedding and was given the flash drive by a Russian friend as part of a sting operation and thought it contained holiday photos.

His sister, though, said Saturday that the FSB set him up "with the express purpose of having him as a pawn."

"Within days, they were already talking about who they wanted to trade him for," Whelan said. "The difficulties involved with trying to negotiate to get to get him back have been ongoing."

It's "difficult" watching others, like Griner, being brought home first, she said; but when someone is wrongfully detained, "it doesn't matter" what charges they face.

"It has to do with whether that foreign country is trying to get something out of the government," she said. "Once a person is being held like that, there is no chance of diplomacy or proper legal process or anything like that. Bringing them out becomes a transactional situation with that foreign country."

Further, she said that Russia's demands for her brother were something that the United States had no control over.

According to reports, Russia was demanding the release of convicted hit man Vadim Krasikov, who is being held in Germany, to be part of any prisoner exchange involving Whelan, but the German government was not willing to release him.

"I think they did that on purpose," Whelan said. "They wanted to cause trouble and make it so that Paul couldn't come home."

Griner's exchange was made for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, a move that has come under criticism. Still, Whelan told Newsmax that she feels that "whatever it takes to bring Americans home is what is necessary."

"My brother, I feel, is worth more than any Russian criminal," she said. "However, we have to follow that with deterrence and punishment against these countries that are doing this. Not only do I want my brother back, but this problem of wrongful detention has to be solved. Americans should be able to travel around the world to whatever country without fear of being wrongfully detained and used as a pawn."

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Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Paul Whelan, said that while the family is thrilled whenever a wrongfully detained American comes home, it's an "understatement" to say that it was difficult to hear that Paul was once again remaining behind while Brittney Griner was being freed.
elizabeth whelan, paul whelan, russia, brittney griner
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2022-04-10
Saturday, 10 December 2022 02:04 PM
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