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NBC issues correction after reporting White House had choice of 'Griner or Whelan'

NBC News issued a correction to the article that cited a U.S. government official.

Published: December 11, 2022 1:30pm

Updated: December 11, 2022 4:05pm

NBC News issued a correction after initially reporting that the White House had the choice of freeing either ex-Marine Paul Whelan or WNBA star Brittney Griner in a controversial prisoner swap for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout. 

NBC initially reported after Griner was released Thursday that a U.S. government "official said Russia has treated Whelan differently because he is an accused spy, and that the Kremlin gave the White House the choice of either Griner or Whelan — or none."

The outlet later edited the article to state: "The official said that Russia has treated Whelan differently because he is accused of spying and that the Kremlin ultimately gave the White House the choice of Griner or no one after different options were proposed."

NBC added a correction stating that "an earlier version of this article misstated the choice the Biden administration was given over hostages. It was to swap for Griner or no one, not a choice between Griner or Whelan."

President Joe Biden said last week that "for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul's case different than Britney's" and the administration is still working to secure Paul's release. Biden did not address reports at the time that Griner was traded for former Soviet Army Lt. Col. Viktor Bout, who the Obama Justice Department called "one of the world's most prolific arms dealers." 

Conservatives blasted Biden for freeing Griner while Whelan remains in Russian prison, where he has been since 2018 for espionage.

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