Brittney Griner’s return to the United States was facilitated by U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, who revealed to “Good Morning America” on Monday that he spoke to Paul Whelan mere hours after Griner’s arrival in Texas.
“Paul called from the Russian correctional colony around 9:30 in the morning, after I had arrived at the airport at 4:30. Paul, it was one or nothing, we couldn’t get you out, I told him after explaining the situation. I recognize that you’re a little unhappy about it, but we’re going to keep working on it,” Carstens said on “Good Morning America.” “Robin Roberts is a co-anchor.
“President is concentrating. The secretary is attentive. We’re meeting this morning, Monday, to discuss the strategy’s next stages, but Paul, don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about you “Carstens threw in.
Former Marine Whelan has been held captive for four years after being apprehended by the Federal Security Service of Russia in 2018 while in Moscow for a friend’s wedding. He was found guilty of spying and given a 16-year sentence, but the United States and his family claim that the allegations were made up to use him as a political pawn.
Bringing Whelan home is still a priority, according to Carstens, and work “was happening while we were on the aircraft coming home with Brittney.”
As part of a prisoner swap between Moscow and Washington, Griner, a WNBA player who admitted guilt to narcotics charges after bringing a vape containing hashish oil into the country in what she claimed was an accident, was freed last Thursday. Viktor Bout, a notorious former arms dealer serving a 25-year term in Illinois following a conspiracy conviction, was freed in exchange for Griner’s release from a correctional camp, provoking condemnation from some.
According to Carstens, who was appointed to his position by former President Donald Trump in 2020, an assessment was done and it was found that Bout’s release was no longer a threat to U.S. security. He described these kinds of judgments as “difficult,” but said that “it’s our moral duty to acquire an American.”
“I suppose I should flip that around; to me, Viktor’s behavior is not the problem. An American being wrongfully detained and kept in a foreign jail cell is intolerable. A blue passport signifies something “said he. We begin with the premise and the conviction that it is our moral duty to obtain an American, even though some of the decisions we have made have been difficult.
“I left with the impression that this is an intelligent, impressive woman who's very self-aware, very kind, very humble, and above all, authentic.” — Roger Carstens, the U.S. special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, on Brittney Griner’s return after release from Russia. pic.twitter.com/PbUXbqUo1U
— Good Morning America (@GMA) December 12, 2022
Carstens also provided more information regarding the journey home that he took with a chatty Griner after the latter’s last-week release from a Russian jail colony. He claimed that when he attempted to direct her to her seat on the aircraft, “she was having none of it.”
“Look, I’ve been listening to Russian for ten months, she declared. I want to converse with people and speak English,” Carstens remarked. Then, while I was attempting to direct her to her seat, she simply ignored me and turned to the crew, where she immediately began introducing herself. Additionally, as I observed her, she made eye contact with everyone, shook hands, learned their names, and only when that was all done, did she move on.
He continued, “I was particularly pleased with how she appreciates other people, including the ones that were attempting to bring her home.
According to Carstens, throughout the 18-hour journey, Griner slept for six of those hours and talked with other passengers for around 12 of them.
We covered a wide range of topics, he added, including her time spent in the Russian penal colony, the court proceedings, her love for Cherelle, her teammates, everything she missed, and the things she misses about the US and America. But I think I came away with the feeling that she is a remarkable, bright woman who is very self-aware, compassionate, humble, and most importantly, authentic, and you get B.G. when you’re authentic,”