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Biden criticised for preferring basketball star over US marine in prisoner swap with Russia

US President Joe Biden to hold a meeting with Republican leaders to discuss the issue of raising debt ceiling

The United States has said that it will continue to do “everything possible” to bring Paul Whelan – a former US Marine in Russian detention for charges of espionage since 2018 – home as US President Joe Biden faces criticism for preferring basketball star Brittney Griner in the prisoner swap with Russia on Thursday.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, in a dramatic one-for-one prisoner swap carried out at the Abu Dhabi airport on Thursday, Washington and Moscow exchanged jailed Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) player Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

After the exchange, US President Joe Biden said that it is a day that his administration had worked towards for a long time.

“Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner. She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home,” said the US President.

However, critics slammed the US President for “leaving behind” a US marine who has been languishing in a Russian prison for four years now.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, has in the past been severely criticized for her views on the national anthem during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

“I honestly feel we should not play the National Anthem during our season. I think we should take that much of a stand,” said the Phoenix Mercury center then.

“I wonder if she will respect our flag and country now,” said Collin Rugg in a tweet which has been liked by nearly 28,000 people till Friday morning.

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, said that Brittney is more than an athlete, more than an Olympian, an important role model and inspiration to millions of Americans, particularly the LGBTQI+ Americans and women of colour.

“This was not a decision that the President made lightly, but he believed it was the right thing to do to secure Brittney’s release. And — and so, you know, this is a commitment that he had, a promise that he made. And where we were left with is either we bring Brittney home or no one at all,” the Press Secretary told reporters earlier today.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also assured that the Biden administration will never stop working to secure Paul Whelan’s release and return home.

“I have to say the Whelan family is remarkable, starting with Paul and his own courage but also in their incredible graciousness, especially in this time.  What I told them and what I can tell you is we will continue to do everything possible to bring Paul Whelan home.  We won’t stop until we do,” Blinken said on CBS News Livestream with Margaret Brennan.

Also Read: US and Russia undertake high-profile prisoner swap at Abu Dhabi airport