Dallas Cowboys’ Micah Parsons apologizes for Tweet about Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan in US-Russia swap

Officials have said that the Griner-Bout swap was the only solution

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 04: Micah Parsons #11 of the Dallas Cowboys walks off the field before kickoff against the Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium on December 4, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) (Cooper Neill, 2022 Cooper Neill)

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons apologized for a Tweet about the U.S.-Russia prisoner swap that brought WNBA star Brittney Griner home but left a fellow American behind.

Following the news of Griner’s release in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout on Thursday, Parsons criticized the deal because it excluded Paul Whelan.

Whelan is a former U.S. Marine and Michigan corporate security executive who has been imprisoned in Russia since December 2018 on espionage charges. Whelan, his family and the U.S. government have said the claims against him are baseless.

“Wait nah!! We left a marine?!! Hell nah,” Parsons quote Tweeted in response to a post about the swap.

FILE - Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine who was arrested for alleged spying, listens to the verdict in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, June 15, 2020. The family of Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia for espionage, said Friday, Dec. 2, 2022 that he has resumed contact after unexpectedly becoming unreachable in November. Whelan, along with WNBA star Brittney Griner, is the focus of efforts by the United States to arrange a prisoner swap with Russia. (Sofia Sandurskaya, Moscow News Agency photo via AP, File) (Moscow News Agency)

He later Tweeted that while he supports Griner’s homecoming, he said it was “crazy to me the President wouldn’t bring him home too.”

He added that his relatives served in the military, and isn’t a supporter of former President Donald Trump or a “fan” of President Joe Biden.

Parsons went on to apologize for the Tweets, saying he learned more about the topic and shouldn’t have Tweeted out of emotion for his relatives who served in the military.

“For that I apologize. Also if what I’m told about the attempts to bring Ret Marine Paul Whelan home are true then the best outcome was accomplished,” he said. “I pray Mr. Whelan comes home but am extremely happy for Brittney and her family. I am not too prideful to admit when I’ve made a mistake.”

U.S. officials have said that the Griner-Bout swap was the best they could get from Russia after months of private negotiations and angry public accusations, according to the Associated Press.

Griner reached U.S. soil on Friday morning after she touched down in San Antonio’s Kelly Field. Bout has since returned home.

The deal came together in the past few days after the administration grudgingly accepted that though the Russians would not budge on Whelan, they were prepared to relent on Griner, creating imperfect but ultimately workable options for a U.S. government under pressure to make a deal.

“This was not a choice for us on which American to bring home. It was a choice between bringing home one American or none,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Whelan was arrested while visiting Moscow for a friend’s wedding. He was convicted of espionage charges and is serving a 16-year prison sentence.

“For totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s, and while we have not succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up,” Biden said Thursday.

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About the Authors

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

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