Kirby says Russia wouldn’t launch Paul Whelan in prisoner swap

Nationwide Safety Council communications chief John Kirby on Sunday mentioned Russia wouldn’t commerce former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan for convicted Russian arms vendor Viktor Bout.

Kirby advised “Fox Information Sunday” host Shannon Bream that buying and selling Whelan was “by no means a selection posed by the Russians” and the Biden administration may solely change WNBA star Brittney Griner for the arms service provider.

“They deal with Paul in another way due to these sham espionage prices,” Kirby mentioned. “He’s put on this particular class by the Russians.”

Griner’s launch final week was met with aid by supporters after her case had captured the eye of many People. The basketball star was detained for carrying hashish oil in February and sentenced to 9 years at a Russian penal colony.

However others have expressed dismay that Whelan couldn’t be traded together with Griner. Earlier this yr, the previous Marine was mentioned to be included within the talks of a possible prisoner swap together with Griner.

Whelan was detained in 2018 and sentenced in 2020 to a 16-year jail sentence on espionage prices in a trial the U.S. calls a sham.

In an interview with CNN final week, Whelan mentioned he was “tremendously disenchanted” no more was performed to work on his launch.

Kirby on Sunday mentioned the Biden administration has labored tirelessly to get each Whelan and Griner out.

“Till the very finish we have been making efforts to attempt to get each of them out however there was no strategy to get there,” he mentioned. “It was both make this deal now and not less than get certainly one of them dwelling and sustain the efforts to get Paul dwelling.”