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8 Dec, 2022 18:15

NFL star takes swipe at Biden over Griner prisoner swap deal

Micah Parsons questioned his government’s approach before backtracking
NFL star takes swipe at Biden over Griner prisoner swap deal

Dallas Cowboys star linebacker Micah Parsons criticized the US government for Thursday’s prisoner swap deal involving women’s basketball star Brittney Griner and Russian businessman Viktor Bout, before reversing course and claiming he had not been “educated” on the matter.

Griner, 32, was detained at a Moscow airport in February after she was found to be carrying cannabis oil in her luggage. The WNBA star, who is one of professional basketball’s most prominent female players, was subsequently sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony on drug charges.

But after several months of detention, it was announced on Thursday that Russia and the US had come to terms on a prisoner exchange which saw Griner return to America, while Bout would move in the opposite direction. 

Bout had served 11 years of a 25-year sentence in the US on gun-running charges. He denied all claims of illegality against him.

However, some figures within the United States have questioned why another American citizen currently being held in Russia was also not part of the arrangement between the two countries. 

Former US Marine Paul Whelan, who also holds citizenship in Canada, Ireland and Great Britain, is currently serving a 16-year sentence in Russia on charges of espionage.

He had been speculated as another potential candidate for a prisoner swap, but was not part of Thursday’s arrangement. 

And Parsons, who is widely considered to be one of the best defensive players in the NFL, initially lambasted the decision to free Griner and not Whelan.

“Wait nah!! We left a marine?!! Hell nah,” he wrote in a tweet soon after news of Griner’s release was made public. 

But after receiving backlash for his comments, he returned to Twitter less than two hours later to write: “My last tweet was no shot at Brittney Griner.

I’m super happy she’s back home as she should be. I just have family who have served and it’s crazy to me the President wouldn’t bring him home too. I’m the furthest thing from a Trump supporter but I’m not a fan of Biden either.”

He added: “Just spoke to some people that I respect and trust. I should have been more educated on the topic and not tweeted out of emotion for my family and other who have served. For that I apologize.

Also if what I’m told about the attempts to bring Ret Marine Paul Whelan home are true, then the best outcome was accomplished. I pray Mr. Whelan comes home but am extremely happy for Brittney and her family. I am not too prideful to admit when I’ve made a mistake.”

In his own comments on the matter, US President Joe Biden said at a Thursday press conference that work is ongoing to secure the release of Whelan.

This was not a choice of which American to bring home,” said the US leader. 

Biden went on to claim that Russia is treating Whelan’s case differently to Griner’s “for totally illegitimate reasons.”

“While we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we will not give up,” Biden added.