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Paul Whelan's Family Reacts To Brittney Griner Trade Decision

Brittney Griner walks into court out of prison in Russia.

US Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, leaves the courtroom after the court's verdict in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Brittney Griner is finally on her way home  after nearly a year in Russian prison.

The WNBA star was reportedly sent back to the United States as part of a one-for-one trade deal involving convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

When the possibility of this trade was first reported, it also included the return of Paul Whelan: an American citizen being held in Russia on suspicion of espionage.

The Whelan family released a statement about Griner's return on Thursday.

"There is no greater success than for a wrongful detainee to be freed and for them to go home. The Biden Admin made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn't going to..” the family said, per Nick Kalman of Fox News.

David Whelan, Paul's brother, said they got an early warning for this "public disappointment."

"That early warning meant that our family has been able to mentally prepare for what is now a public disappointment for us. And a catastrophe for Paul," David Whelan said, per NBC News. "I do not know if he is aware yet, although he will surely learn from Russian media."

Whelan was jailed in December 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in Russian prison in 2020.