WNBA star Brittney Griner was released from Russian detention and is on her way back to American soil, President Joe Biden announced on Thursday.
The United States and Russia took part in a one-for-one prison swap, with Russia releasing Griner in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. The swap did not include Paul Whelan, another American that the State Department declared wrongfully detained. Whelan, a retired Marine, remains imprisoned on a 16-year sentence for espionage, which the U.S. has denied.
Whelan's absence in the deal upset Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons, who replied to the news saying, "We left a marine?!! Hell nah."
Parsons tweeted in three installments, going on to clarify and retract his statements, but his first tweet garnered the most traction on Twitter, with over 131,000 likes and 24,000 retweets, as of the time of this article.
Parsons said he is not upset with Griner's release, but Whelan's lack thereof.
"I just have family who have served and it’s crazy to me the President wouldn’t bring him home too," Parsons said.
The U.S.' original offer to Russia included both Griner and Whelan in exchange for Bout. That offer was denied.
"This was not a choice of which American to bring home," Biden said. "Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul's case differently than Brittney's."
At the White House press conference on Thursday, Cherelle, Griner's wife, said she is committed to helping bring Whelan home safely.
“Today my family is whole," she said. "But as you all are aware, there are so many other families who are not whole… BG and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home, including Paul, whose family is in our hearts today.”
Whelan's brother David said Griner's release is "great news" and that the White House gave the Whelan family advanced notice about Griner's homecoming.
"Any time an American comes home is wonderful news.
"We do worry about what's in Paul's future," David said. "I think it's become clear that the U.S. doesn't have any concessions that the Russian government wants for Paul, so I'm not really sure what the future holds."
Parsons, after speaking to people he has "respect and trust" for, admitted he tweeted out of emotion and that if the U.S. did everything they could to bring Whelan home, "the best outcome was accomplished."
"I should have been more educated on the topic and not tweeted out of emotion for my family and other who have served," Parsons said. "For that I apologize... I am not too prideful to admit when I’ve made a mistake."