Griner was arrested in Russia in mid-February on allegations of drug smuggling. A Moscow court recently extended her arrest until May 19, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
While her legal team has had access to her and was able to see her several times a week throughout her detention, a US official from the US embassy in Moscow was finally granted consular access to Griner in late March, and said they found her to be in “good condition.”
Whelan, a US citizen, has been detained in Russia since 2018 after he was arrested on espionage charges, which he has consistently denied. He was convicted and sentenced in June 2020 to 16 years in prison in a trial US officials denounced as unfair. In a June, he told CNN of the grim conditions of the remote labor camp where he works in a clothing factory he called a “sweatshop” and said obtaining medical care is “very difficult.”
On Wednesday, Whelan’s family expressed happiness at the release of Reed, but said it is a day of “varied emotions” and questions for them.
“It’s the event that we hope for so much in our own lives. Hopefully, Trevor will now get the medical attention and care he needs deserves,” Whelan’s brother David Whelan said in a statement Wednesday. “He is reunited with his family.”
“Trevor is free. Paul remains a hostage,” David Whelan continued.
Both Whelan and Griner’s families have been fighting for their freedom. The Biden administration has said it will continue to work for both of their releases.
“The case of Paul Whelan is one we continue to work day in, day out,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told CNN Wednesday. “Paul Whelan is wrongfully detained in Russia.”
“When it comes to Brittney Griner, we are working very closely with her team. Her case is a top priority for us,” Price continued. “We’re in regular contact with her team.”