HomeSportsElon Musk Blasts Brittney Griner Prisoner Swap

Elon Musk Blasts Brittney Griner Prisoner Swap

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

After spending the better part of a year in the brutal conditions of a Russian penal colony, WNBA star Brittney Griner finally returned to United States soil before sunrise on Friday morning (December 9). The release was secured with a prison swap between Griner and infamous Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Once dubbed “one of the most dangerous men of the face of the Earth, Bout was serving a 25-year sentence in a Federal Prison. “They will try to lock me up for life,” Bout told The New Yorker before his sentencing. “But I’ll get back to Russia. I don’t know when. But I’m still young.”

Countless across the country and around the world expressed relief at the release of Brittney Griner, who was arrested for carrying cannabis oil in a Russian airport earlier this year. For many, however, that relief was tinged with disappointment, as former Marine Paul Whelan wasn’t included in the swap. He remains in the Russian prison where he’s spent the last four years.

The Marine remaining in prison struck a chord with many, including business magnate Elon Musk. The conversation began with a tweet reading, “Does it surprise anyone that Biden regime would leave a Marine behind after they abandoned Americans in Afghanistan?”

“Never leave a Marine behind. Never,” Musk replied, mere hours before Griner returned home.

Former Marine Paul Whelan Speaks Out Following Brittney Griner Release

In the wake of Brittney Griner’s release, Marine Paul Whelan himself spoke out on the prisoner swap. Though he assured his fellow Americans that he was happy to see Griner free, he couldn’t help but express disappointment at his own continued imprisonment.

“I am greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release,” he told CNN. “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.”

For Whelan, learning that he had been left behind was a surprise. “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.

Ahead of Brittney Griner’s return, President Biden addressed the Whelan family’s ongoing struggle. It was “not a choice of which American to bring home,” Biden said.

“Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s,” he continued. “And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We will never give up.”

According to White House officials, the Biden administration has “new forms of offers” they’re going to try in negotiations to secure Paul Whelan’s release.