The twin brother of Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who is imprisoned in Russia, lashed Donald Trump on Friday for suddenly appearing to care about the case as the former president beat up on a White House deal freeing another inmate, Brittney Griner.
On Thursday, Trump railed on his Truth Social platform about the release of Griner, a WNBA player, in a Russian prisoner exchange negotiated by President Joe Biden’s administration.
Trump indicated that Whelan was more worthy of release than Griner, who “openly hates our country.” Griner has previously protested against police brutality and racial injustice.
“What a ‘stupid’ and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA!!!” Trump wrote.
Whelan was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in Russian prison on espionage charges, which he has dismissed as “garbage.”
David Whelan, the former Marine’s twin, snapped on Twitter that Trump “appears to have mentioned my brother #PaulWhelan’s wrongful detention more in the last 24 hours than he did in the 2 years of his presidency in which Paul was held hostage by #Russia (zero). I don’t suggest he cares now any more than he did then (zero).”
Griner was arrested 10 months ago at a Moscow airport for possession of vape cartridges, which the hoop star said she had inadvertently packed. The Phoenix Mercury player had traveled to Russia during the WNBA offseason to play in a professional league there. In August, a Russian court found her guilty of drug smuggling with criminal intent, sentencing her to nine years in prison.
Biden announced Thursday that she was released in a prisoner swap that also freed Viktor Bout, a notorious Russian arms dealer who was incarcerated in the U.S. Whelan was not part of the deal, despite reported attempts by the White House to include him in the exchange.
While Whelan’s family members were sad that he wasn’t freed, they were elated for Griner, David Whelan told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in an interview Friday.
“Every family of a wrongful detainee feels good for another wrongful detainee coming home, to know they are back with their loved ones,” he said. “We hope that it will eventually be our day.”