Paul Whelan, a former US Marine, has been held captive in Russia for four years. “I just hope to say, ‘Welcome home,'” his twin says.
When WNBA star Brittney Griner was recently released from a Russian prison, fans and supporters worldwide rejoiced, but David Whelan admits he felt helpless when his brother, Paul, was not on the plane home with her. His twin brother has been held in a Russian work camp for the past four years, and the family hoped he would return with Griner.
“We saw Trevor Reed come home, but Paul did not. We saw Brittney Griner arrive home, but Paul did not.
You start to wonder, ‘How many more shots is the US government going to be able to take, and when, if ever, will the Russian government decide that they have been given everything they need to release Paul?'” David Whelan delivers the news. “It’s difficult to maintain your optimism and hope year after year.”
David, a 52-year-old law librarian in San Diego, reads Russian news every day, hoping to find information that will help his brother’s case.
“I wake up every day hoping to bring Paul home,” he says. “There is never a time when I am not thinking about Paul’s case.” David last spoke with his twin in October of 2018. Another former Marine had requested Paul’s assistance at his wedding to a Russian woman. David recalls that Paul was hesitant to leave because he was concerned about going their elderly parents in Michigan, where their mother had recently slipped on ice.
“He was concerned about them, but he wasn’t concerned about himself,” David says. “In retrospect, we realise he was the one who was going to be in danger, not them.”