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CNN  — 

Paul Whelan, a US citizen who remains imprisoned in Russia, is questioning why he was left behind in the prisoner swap that freed fellow American Trevor Reed.

“Why was I left behind? While I am pleased Trevor is home with his family, I have been held on a fictitious charge of espionage for 40 months,” Whelan said in a statement to his parents and shared with CNN. “The world knows this charge was fabricated. Why hasn’t more been done to secure my release?”

Whelan, a US citizen and former Marine, was detained at a Moscow hotel in December 2018 and arrested on espionage charges, which he has consistently and vehemently denied. He was convicted and sentenced in June 2020 to 16 years in prison in a trial US officials denounced as unfair.

Whelan is also a citizen of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada.

In a separate statement earlier Wednesday, the Whelan family expressed happiness about Reed’s release after more than two years in Russian detention, but said it is a day of “varied emotions” and questions for them.

Among those questions: why the family was not given more notice about Reed’s release.

Elizabeth Whelan, Paul Whelan’s sister, told CNN that she had received a call around 7:10 a.m. Wednesday “to let us know that Trevor was coming back and Paul was not.”

“I had barely time to alert my parents and brothers when it was all over the news,” she said, adding that she “was unhappy that we were given so little time to absorb this bad news.”

Her parents on Wednesday “were just devastated, completely crushed,” and expecting to have to relay the news to Paul Whelan, with whom they spoke Wednesday. However, he had already heard it from Russian television and “was very upset,” Elizabeth Whelan said.

“When I had a virtual call with the SPEHA group later that day I let them know in no uncertain terms