Former President Donald Trump ripped into President Joe Biden on Thursday for the prisoner swap with Russia that left former Marine Paul Whelan behind.
The Biden administration announced that WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner would be released from Russia in exchange for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer.
“What kind of a deal is it to swap Brittney Griner, a basketball player who openly hates our Country, for the man known as ‘The Merchant of Death,’ who is one of the biggest arms dealers anywhere in the World, and responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and horrific injuries,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.
Griner, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, was among the athletes who objected to the national anthem being played before games, according to the Arizona Republic.
As for Bout, he was convicted in 2011 of trying to kill American citizens through arms deals that included working with Al-Qaida and the Taliban, The New York Times reported.
Trump said the deal leaves behind an American who should have been released — Whelan.
“Why wasn’t former Marine Paul Whelan included in this totally one-sided transaction? He would have been let out for the asking. What a ‘stupid’ and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA!!!” Trump wrote.
Whelan, who worked in corporate security after leaving the Marine Corps, was arrested in Russia in December 2018. In June 2020, he was convicted on espionage charges, which American officials have said were false and politically motivated, according to The New York Times.
Whelan told CNN he was “greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release, especially as the four-year anniversary of my arrest is coming up.”
“I was arrested for a crime that never occurred. … I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here,” he said in a call from prison.
Whelan had hoped he would be included in the deal that had been in the works for weeks.
“I was led to believe that things were moving in the right direction, and that the governments were negotiating and that something would happen fairly soon,” he said.
He said he understands there is a difference between his circumstances and those of Griner, who was arrested on a drug charge in February.
“They’ve always considered me to be at a higher level than other criminals of my sort and for whatever reason, I’m treated differently than another individual here from a Western country that’s also on a charge of espionage,” Whelan said.
Meet Brittney Griner & Marine Paul Whelan.
Both were convicted in Russian courts on dubious charges.
Both serving multi-year sentences in Russian prison.
Brittney hates America
Paul served America
Guess which one Biden traded a terrorist to free?
Semper fi Paul pic.twitter.com/tuP1R6AZpf
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) December 8, 2022
Biden insisted Whelan was not forgotten.
“Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s. And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We will never give up,” he said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.