After freeing Brittney Griner from detainment in Moscow in exchange for ‘Merchant Of Death,’ Viktor Bout, the White House would return to negotiation with the Kremlin to release former marine Paul Whelan.
What Happened: The White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, on Monday, said the U.S. officials would hold talks “this week” with Russian counterparts about negotiations to release Whelan.
“With respect to the question of whether we’ve had [an] engagement with the Russian Federation on the Whelan case, we will have an engagement with them this week,” Sullivan said during a White House press briefing.
See Also: Russian Arms Dealer Exchanged For Brittney Griner Joins Putin-Loyal Ultranationalist Party
Whelan was arrested in Russia in 2018 and sentenced to 16 years for espionage charges. According to his defense attorney, he was apprehended with a thumb drive that purportedly contained the Kremlin’s “state secrets,” though Whelan was told it only contained pictures of churches.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price also confirmed that the U.S. is pressing Russia to release Whelan. Price said Russia treats Whelan differently from Griner “because they do have the sham espionage charges attached to his case.”
This came days after the U.S. released Bout, a former K.G.B. officer and a personal friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in exchange for American basketball star Griner. She was held for the past 10 months on charges of possessing some cannabis oil, which was legally prescribed to her in America.
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