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Micah Parsons apologizes for tweets after Brittney Griner release: ‘I should have been more educated’

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Micah Parsons reacted to the news of Brittney Griner’s release from Russia by decrying that Ret. Marine Paul Whelan remained in Russian custody. He did not take long to walk back his comments.

Parsons responded to the news that Griner had been released and Whelan was not by saying, “We left a marine?!! Hell nah,” before later saying that after speaking with people about the situation, he needed to be “more educated on the topic” and should not have “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,” Parsons said, “then the best outcome was accomplished. I pray Mr. Whelan comes home but an extremely happy for Brittney and her family. I am not too prideful to admit when I’ve made a mistake.”

MORE: Brittney Griner freed from Russia in prisoner swap for arms dealer

Parsons sparked controversy Thursday morning with his reaction to the swap made between the U.S. and Russian governments that will bring Griner, a WNBA star convicted of smuggling charges after she was found to have hashish oil in her luggage in Russia and sentenced to nine years in prison, home.

He then responded to the comment saying that he meant “no shot at Brittney Griner,” explaining that he was happy she was coming back, but that he has family members who have served and that he didn’t understand why President Joe Biden wouldn’t bring Whelan home along with Griner.

MORE: Stars celebrate Brittney Griner’s release from Russian prison

The situation is more complicated than a simple swap of prisoners. Griner, who plays in Russia during the WNBA offseason, was detained after having .702 grams of cannabis oil in her luggage in a Moscow airport. Prosecutors deemed it was a “significant amount” and asked a judge to sentence her to more than nine years in prison. She was sentenced in August. The U.S. deemed it a wrongful detainment, which allowed for the prison swap process.

Since July, the U.S. has been working to release both Griner and Whelan. Whelan, a former Marine, was arrested in December 2018 on espionage charges, which the U.S. had also deemed was a wrongful detainment. Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in Russian prison. The U.S. has been working to have Whelan released since he was charged in January 2019.

The hope had initially been that the U.S. could swap convicted international arms dealer Viktor Bout to Russia for both Griner and Whelan, but Russia had denied the proposals of the prisoner swap.

“We never forgot about Brittney. We’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan who has been unjustly detained in Russia for years. This was not a choice of which American to bring home,” Biden said, according to ABC News. “Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s, and while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release we are not giving up. We will never give up.”

MORE: The complete Brittney Griner detainment timeline

Whelan’s twin brother, David Whelan, was notified ahead of the swap that Griner would be released, while Whelan would stay in Russia. David Whelan called the decision to make the swap to free Griner “the right decision,” per ABC News.

“As the family member of a Russian hostage, I can literally only imagine the joy she will have, being reunited with her loved ones, and in time for the holidays. There is no greater success than for a wrongful detainee to be freed and for them to go home,” he said. “The Biden Administration made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to happen.”


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