President Joe Biden’s prisoner exchange of a basketball player for an internationally infamous Russian arms dealer isn’t sitting well with many Americans, including Twitter CEO Elon Musk.
The White House yesterday announced the deal, in which the U.S. will receive WNBA player Brittney Griner, who was jailed on drug charges, in exchange for the release of Viktor Bout, “The Merchant of Death.”
Biden alerted the nation on Twitter Thursday that his administration had procured the freedom of the lesbian basketball star, who disdains the national anthem and said in 2020 that it shouldn’t be played at all before sporting events.
“Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner,” wrote Biden — or whoever manages his Twitter account. “She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home.”
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022
The post included photos of Biden embracing Griner’s legally recognized spouse, Cherelle, along with Vice President Kamala Harris celebrating the release of the WNBA player, who was arrested at a Russian airport in February and sentenced to nine years in a penal colony in August after pleading guilty to drug smuggling.
Griner had said she “made an honest mistake” when she brought vape cartridges carrying hashish oil into the country.
Her release four months after her sentencing engendered outrage from Americans wondering why Marine Corps veteran Paul Whelan — who has been in a Russian prison for the last four years on dubious espionage charges — was still behind bars.
Biden addressed the issue during his remarks Thursday morning.
“We’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly detained in Russia for years,” he said. “This was not a choice of which American to bring home.”
“Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s,” he said. “And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We will never give up.”
“We’ll keep negotiating in good faith for Paul’s release. I guarantee that. I say that to the family: I guarantee you,” Biden said. “And I urge Russia to do the same to ensure that Paul’s health and humane treatment are maintained until we can — are able to bring him home. I don’t want any American to sit wrongfully detained one extra day if we can bring that person home.”
That wasn’t enough for some on Twitter, including the social media giant’s CEO, who issued a short but scathing response to another user’s tweet on the subject.
Never leave a marine behind. Never.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2022
Reaction to Musk’s comment was unsurprisingly mixed — we’re talking about Twitter, after all — but the majority of responses seemed to agree.
This wins “most honorable tweet” and demonstrates the true meaning of Semper Fidelis. Thank you, Elon ❤
— Gunnery Sergeant Jessie Jane Duff (@JessieJaneDuff) December 9, 2022
Here’s the problem, IMHO:
We exchanged a DANGEROUS arms dealer who can DESTROY AMERICA FROM WITHOUT
for a person that sees America as BAD— and will continue pushing narratives that can cause disunity and possibly DESTROY AMERICA FROM WITHIN.
So who won the exchange?
— Nick Flor 🥋+🇺🇸 (@ProfessorF) December 9, 2022
— Director Dean (@PrinzPlaymates) December 9, 2022
In an interview with CNN Thursday, Whelan said he was discouraged about the turn of events.
“I am greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release, especially as the four-year anniversary of my arrest is coming up,” he said from the Russian penal colony where he was being held.
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