WNBA star Brittney Griner has been the talk of the town ever since the Russian government detained her in February 2022. Not many know why she was imprisoned and what the current update is. For context, Russian airport officials caught Griner at the airport with vape cartridges. The crime that they charged her for was that the cartridges contained a form of cannabis, which is banned in Russia.
However, fortunately for basketball fans, the Russian government released the Phoenix Mercury star earlier today. The US government exchanged Viktor Bout. The American government had imprisoned the Russian for a while now. President of the United States, Joe Biden, announced that she was on the way back home.
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022
The decision to let Viktor go hasn’t gone down well with many Americans. Thousands claim that US marine Paul Whelan, who is also imprisoned in Russia, should have been released as well. People aren’t exactly aware of who Whelan is, as his name is slowly coming into the light after Brittney’s release from the European country.
Who is Paul Whelan, US Marine imprisoned in Russia?
Paul Whelan is a former US marine. He holds citizenship across the United Kingdom, the United States, and Ireland. The interesting fact about Paul is that he was born in Canada in 1970 to parents who had Irish roots. Whelan first decided to enlist in the Marines in 1994. Eventually, he served with the Marine Service Corps for a five-year period that ended in 2008.
Unfortunately for Whelan, the Marine Corps suspended him and dismissed him under “bad conduct.” The world later found out that they charged him with crimes including “Larceny”, which meant he was allegedly misusing someone else’s social security number. However, after a series of unexpected events, the Russian government believed that they caught him spying. This was the reason for his arrest in Russia a few years later.
Fans react to Viktor Bout’s release for Brittney Griner
It looks like Brittney’s release isn’t enough for Americans. Twitter has been blowing with questions asked by people, who are demanding for Paul’s release as well. A US congresswoman tweeted, “Brittney Griner being released in exchange for a convicted arms dealer. What about Retired U.S. Marine Paul Whelan?”
Brittney Griner being released in exchange for a convicted arms dealer.
What about Retired U.S. Marine Paul Whelan?
— Mayra Flores (@MayraFlores2022) December 8, 2022
After months of wrongful detention in Russia, Brittney Griner is on her way home to her wife Cherelle and her other loved ones. We will not cease in our efforts until Paul Whelan is back with his family, too.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) December 8, 2022
Our federal government just agreed to release the Merchant of Death for Brittney Griner, but not Paul Whelan…let that sink in🤷🏻♂️
— Philip Heness (@philip_heness) December 8, 2022
We prioritized Britney Griner, the WBNA celebrity, over a U.S. Marine Veteran still in Russia…
For an international arms dealer nicknamed the “Merchant Of Death”
What a slap in the face to Americans by Joe Biden
— Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) December 8, 2022
We traded a Russian Arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death” to Russia for the release Brittney Griner…
1) I never want to hear the words “Gun Control” come from Biden’s mouth again after this one
2) US Marine Paul Whelan is still imprisoned in Russia.
— Shawn Farash ❌🐻 (@Shawn_Farash) December 8, 2022
It looks like people aren’t exactly a fan of the US government’s move to release Viktor Bout in exchange for Brittney Griner. At the same time, many believe that Paul Whelan should be back home with his loved ones too. The WNBA star is currently on the way back to the US right now, and is yet to comment on her release.