After learning of Griner's release on Thursday, U.S. officials expressed regret that they were unable to secure Whelan's release but stated that they would continue their efforts.

President Biden stated on Thursday that these efforts have thus far been unsuccessful due to Russia's decision to treat Whelan's case "differently" due to the nature of the espionage charges against him. Biden described these espionage allegations as "completely baseless."

Biden stated that his administration has "not forgotten about Paul Whelan" and that it will "continue to negotiate in good faith for his release."

Whelan stated on Thursday that he is "extremely dissatisfied" that the government has not done more to secure his release, especially as the fourth anniversary of his arrest approaches. "I was arrested for a crime that never happened," he told CNN in a phone interview from the remote Russian prison colony where he is being held. "I do not comprehend why I am still seated here."

David Whelan, Paul's brother, stated in a statement that U.S. officials informed them on Wednesday that Paul would not be a part of the exchange that freed Griner, and he expressed pessimism regarding the possibility of his brother's release.

Russian attorneys for Whelan lamented the exclusion of their client from the swap. According to reports, the U.S. government attempted to negotiate the release of both Griner and Whelan in exchange for Bout during the summer.

Paul and his family had hoped that he would finally return home to his elderly parents, according to his attorney Olga Karlova, who told The Post that there had been a great deal of speculation and hope regarding this matter.

She added, "We don't know the exact reason [he hasn't been added], but he may be too valuable for the swap, so they've decided to hold him for longer."

Due to the nature of the espionage charges against Whelan, the Russians rejected all of the proposals presented to them by U.S. officials, according to a national security official who stated on Thursday that Whelan was never a viable option for the Russians during negotiations over Griner's release.

"We did not have an option of which American to bring home in this situation. It was a choice between bringing home Brittney Griner or none," the official said on a conference call with reporters under the condition of anonymity.

According to officials, the debate for Whelan's release remains open. This is the second time that Whelan has been omitted from a prisoner exchange between Moscow and the United States. Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine arrested in 2019, was exchanged earlier this year for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot convicted of narcotics smuggling and sentenced to 20 years in a U.S. jail.