(NewsNation) — The retired Marine who has been in a Russian prison for four years is in an all-too-familiar position — unsure when he will be free.
Ever since WNBA star Brittney Griner was arrested for drug possession, rumors have circulated that the U.S. could negotiate a deal with Moscow to free Whelan and the Olympic basketball player by returning notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout to Russia.
But Thursday, the U.S. swapped Bout for Griner straight up.
“It’s been a hard couple of days,” Paul Whelan’s brother, David Whelan, said on “NewsNation Prime” Saturday.
Though David Whelan said the U.S. was “very kind” to reach out to Paul and their family to warn them about Griner’s release before the press reported it, David admitted it’s a tough pill to swallow.
He said Paul had heard the rumors that he may be freed soon.
“I’m sure he’s recalibrating his own mental state so he can survive until his day comes,” David Whelan said.
Paul Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in prison in June 2020 for espionage, though he insists he’s not a spy and was in Russia for a wedding when he was arrested in 2018.
The State Department insists they’re not giving up on him.
“This is something we’re going to continue to work for because there is no greater priority for the State Department than ensuring the safety and security of Americans who are being wrongly detained or held hostage and getting them home safely,” spokesperson Vedant Patel said on “NewsNation Prime” Saturday.