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‘Preserve the religion, we’re coming’: White Home officers will ‘maintain attempting’ to return Paul Whelan to the US | NEWSRUX

Days after securing the discharge of WNBA star Brittney Griner from Russian custody, US officers mentioned they’re “nonetheless negotiating” for the discharge of former US Marine Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018.

Nationwide Safety Council spokesperson John Kirby mentioned President Joe Biden’s administration made a “very critical, particular proposal” for Mr Whelan and Ms Griner collectively, however “it simply didn’t land anyplace … with the Russians,” he informed ABC’s This Week on 11 December, three days after Ms Griner returned to US soil.

“As we progressed by way of this summer time and into the autumn … it was clear that they had been treating Paul very individually, very distinctly due to these sham espionage costs they levied in opposition to him,” he added. Mr Whelan was accused of espionage and sentenced to 16 years in jail in 2020.

Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, who escorted Ms Griner to the US-bound aircraft after her alternate for Russian arms supplier Viktor Bout, mentioned he spoke with Mr Whelan on 9 December.

“I mentioned, ‘Paul, you’ve gotten the dedication of this president, the president’s focus, the secretary of state’s focus, I’m actually targeted – we’re going to carry you dwelling’,” Mr Carstens informed CNN on Sunday. “I reminded him, ‘Whenever you had been within the Marines and I used to be within the Military, they all the time reminded you: Preserve the religion. We’re coming to get you.’”

Mr Whelan additionally “shared his frustration” with Mr Carstens that he continues to stay in jail regardless of the discharge of Mr Griner and Trevor Reed, a US Marine veteran who returned to the US after one other prisoner alternate with Russia earlier this 12 months.

Mr Carstens mentioned he defined that negotiations with Russia had been a “case the place there was both one, or none.”

“Had we not made the deal, Brittney wouldn’t have come dwelling,” he added.

In a message to CNN from a Russian jail, Mr Whelan mentioned he’s “vastly upset that extra has not been completed” to safe his launch.

“I don’t perceive why I’m nonetheless sitting right here,” he mentioned by cellphone.

Mr Kirby informed ABC that it grew to become more and more clear final week that Mr Whelan’s launch alongside Ms Griner can be unlikely.

“It actually occurred to us that there was simply no likelihood of doing it final week,” he mentioned. “We had been attempting all the best way up till the second we really secured the deal that bought Brittney dwelling, we had been nonetheless attempting to get Paul out.”

He mentioned the US is “going to maintain attempting as onerous as we are able to” to retrieve Mr Whelan.

“This enterprise of getting wrongfully detained Individuals dwelling, there’s nothing simple about it,” he mentioned.

Mr Carstens wouldn’t reveal the scope of these negotiations, saying that “we normally need to maintain our playing cards near our chest”.

“We’ve got to adapt at occasions,” he added. “However right here’s the factor I’d like to depart you with: We’ve got an ongoing, nicely, open dialogue with the Russians. And we have now the dedication of this president and my workplace, actually, to carry Paul Whelan dwelling.”

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