The brother of former Marine Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia for nearly four years, slammed former President Trump on Friday after Trump criticized the Biden administration for the deal it struck to free WNBA star Brittney Griner but not Whelan.
David Whelan said in a post on Twitter that Trump seems to have mentioned his brother’s wrongful detention more in the past 24 hours than he did during the two years of his presidency during which Whelan was imprisoned.
“I don’t suggest he cares now any more than he did then (zero),” he said.
The United States secured Griner’s release on Thursday after she had been detained in Russia since February for having vape cartridges with hashish oil on her while in the country. Griner was exchanged for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who had served 10 years of a 25-year sentence for conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens, support of a designated terrorist organization and other charges.
Critics of the deal have said that Russia received better terms in getting back an arms dealer, while the U.S. got Griner but not Whelan.
Whelan was accused of spying for the U.S. and arrested on espionage charges in 2018. He was convicted in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in prison.
“What a stupid and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA!” Trump wrote.
Griner has previously spoken out about certain social issues, telling the Arizona Republic in 2020 that she does not believe the national anthem should be played before WNBA games. She said she did not mean any disrespect to the country, noting that her father served in the Vietnam War and was in law enforcement and that she has pride for her country.
Trump has previously criticized athletes who have been vocal about racial justice and police brutality issues, including former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Biden has asserted that the Russians are treating Whelan’s case differently from Griner’s and were unwilling to include him in the deal, but U.S. officials are continuing to work toward freeing him.