Skip to main content

Look: Paul Whelan's Brother Sends Strong Message To White House

Former US Marine Paul Whelan.

Paul Whelan, a former US marine accused of espionage and arrested in Russia in December 2018, stands inside a defendants' cage as he waits to hear his verdict in Moscow on June 15, 2020. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

As the year 2022 comes to a close, the family of Paul Whelan received a ton of attention surrounding his imprisonment in Russia due to the Brittney Griner situation - but not the return of Paul. 

In a new interview with PEOPLE, Whelan's twin brother David admitted that it was tough to see Griner and U.S. Marine Trevor Reed both get released from Russia in the same year while Paul remains imprisoned. David Whelan said that it's becoming harder and harder to "keep up your optimism" as the years go by.

Whelan was also left to wonder how the Biden administration will ever be able to get his brother back. He asked how many more shots they'll get and when Russia's government will feel that they've received enough in return.

"We saw Trevor Reed come home, and Paul didn't come home. We saw Brittney Griner come home, and Paul didn't come home. You start to wonder, 'How many more shots is the U.S. government going to be able to take, and when will the Russian government, if ever, decide that they have been given what they want in order to release Paul?'" David Whelan said. "It's hard to keep up your optimism, your hope for year after year, after year."

David Whelan said that he has been reading Russian newspapers every day in an effort to find something that can help expedite his brother's safe return. 

The situation is nothing short of tragic. Unfortunately, the reports have indicated that Russia was unwilling to let Paul Whelan go in exchange for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was released in the exchange for Brittney Griner earlier this year.

Griner and her family have pledged to conduct advocacy work to help bring Americans imprisoned in foreign countries home.