Family of American prisoner Paul Whelan backs Griner deal

The brother of an American detained in Russia since 2018 said Thursday that his family fears he will not be released for years, even as they supported the U.S. government’s agreement to a prisoner exchange that freed WNBA star Brittney Griner but left Paul Whelan behind.

His brother, David Whelan, told The Associated Press that their parents spoke with Paul Whelan on Thursday — a much different conversation than their routine calls focused on Whelan’s day-to-day life and updates from the family’s home in Michigan.

“I think we all realize that the math is not going to work out for Paul to come home anytime soon, unless the U.S. government is able to find concessions,” David Whelan said. “And so I think we aren’t really sure what the way forward is.”

The family’s pain doesn’t change their belief that the Biden administration “made the right choice” to exchange notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner, David Whelan said.

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