Family Of Former Marine In Russian Captivity Reacts To Potential Exchange

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MARTHA'S VINEYARD, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Family members of a former marine held captive in Russia are reacting to the news from the Biden administration that talks of a potential prisoner exchange have been renewed following the release of another former marine, .

According to the White House, Russia is considering an offer from the United States to swap Paul Whelan and Women's National Basketball Association's Brittney Griner for imprisoned Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, otherwise known as "The Merchant of Death."

Whelan has been incarcerated in Russia for more than three years on an espionage conviction, the legitimacy of which his family has denied. His sister, Elizabeth Whelan lives in Martha's Vineyard and spoke to White House officials about her brother's capture.

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WBZ's Tim Dunn spoke to Whelan's twin brother, David, on how the family is staying positive following the news.

"We're cautiously optimistic that the Russian government might find their own self-interests answered in the offer. You can't really go any higher than when President Biden called our sister [Elizabeth Whelan and spoke to her, even after Secretary Blinken's statement, people from the administration from the State Department of the National Security Council— kept us as well-informed as we probably can be," Whalen said.

Elizabeth previously told CNN that she's critical of the attention Brittney Griner has received in the case over her brother as well as other Americans imprisoned in foreign countries.

Bout is serving a 25-year federal sentence for conspiring to sell weapons to people he knew were intent on killing Americans.

WBZ's Tim Dunn (@ConsiderMeDunn) reports.

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