President Joe Biden on Friday spoke with Paul Whelan’s sister about the former Marine’s detainment in Russia and “reaffirmed that he is committed to bringing Paul home as soon as possible,” according to a statement from a White House official.
“Today, President Biden called Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Paul Whelan who has been wrongfully detained by Russia since 2018. President Biden reaffirmed that he is committed to bringing Paul home as soon as possible, and the U.S. government will continue its efforts to secure the release of Paul as well as Brittney Griner and all other Americans who are held hostage or wrongfully detained around the world,” the White House official said.
“The U.S. government will continue to be in regular contact with Paul’s family, and with the families of other Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad, to provide support and assistance and keep them updated on efforts to secure the release of their loved ones,” the White House official continued.
Elizabeth Whelan called for a meeting with Biden in a CNN interview on Wednesday and criticized the administration for what she saw as prioritizing the family of Brittney Griner over her own. Whelan and Griner are both currently detained in Russia.
“I want Brittney home as much as anybody else does. But why is Paul not getting the same type of level of attention? Why are the Whelans not getting a call? Why is Paul not going to have a letter written by the President? (Paul’s) made plenty of statements to the President,” she told CNN. “I’m really angry. I’m really angry.”
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke by phone Wednesday with Cherelle Griner, the wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, and the President also wrote a letter in response to Brittney Griner’s handwritten letter.
The wife of the two-time US Olympic basketball gold medalist said in a news conference Friday that Biden understood the letter written to him by Griner and that “he sees her as a person.”
This story is breaking and will be updated.