As Brittney Griner’s family celebrates her release from a Russian prison, Paul Whelan’s family continues pushing for the release of a man they believe was wrongfully imprisoned. Whelan, a former United States Marine, was arrested and incarcerated on charges of espionage in Russia. 

The U.S. government tried to negotiate Britney and Whelan’s releases, but the Russians declined. “This was not a situation where we had a choice of which American to bring home,” a senior administration official told CNN. “It was a choice between bringing home one particular American – Brittney Griner – or bringing home none.”

Whelan told CNN he was happy for Griner, but felt disappointed that the government didn’t secure his freedom. 

Paul Whelan is not married and has no children

Paul Whelan is not married, but is seemingly a believer in the marriage institution. According to the Detroit Free Press, Whelan was in Moscow attending the wedding of a former fellow Marine.

The outlet reports that Whelan was to assist the wedding party get around Moscow before returning to the United States in January 2019. However, he was arrested on 28th December 2018 by the Russian Federal Security Service. 

David Whelan, Paul’s twin brother, said via ABC’s Jay O’Brien that the administration rightly brought Brittney Griner home. Whelan said:

“The Biden Administration made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to happen.”

David said that the family knew Paul wouldn’t come home long before the information was made public. “That early warning meant that our family has been able to mentally prepare for what is now a public disappointment for us. And a catastrophe for Paul,” David said. 

President Biden said Russia was treating Paul’s case differently ‘for totally illegitimate reasons’. He added: “While we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we will not give up. We will never give up.”

In addition to David, Paul has two siblings: Andrew and Elizabeth. He holds American, British, Canadian, and Irish citizenship.