HomeSportBiden Meets With Relatives of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan

Biden Meets With Relatives of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan

WASHINGTON — President Biden met on Friday with relations of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, two People imprisoned in Russia whose launch the USA is attempting to barter with Moscow amid poisoned relations over the battle in Ukraine.

Mr. Biden spoke with Mr. Whelan’s sister, Elizabeth, after which with Ms. Griner’s spouse, Cherelle Griner, and her agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, to debate his “persevering with dedication” to bringing each People house.

It was Mr. Biden’s first in-person conferences with each households, although he spoke to them by phone this summer time. Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s nationwide safety adviser, additionally attended Friday’s classes.

The conferences mirror an effort by the White Home to reveal compassion for Ms. Griner and Mr. Whelan, at the same time as some critics say that Mr. Biden will not be doing sufficient to steer President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to launch the 2 People.

The Biden administration provided in June to launch a infamous Russian arms supplier, Viktor Bout, in change for Ms. Griner and Mr. Whelan. Mr. Bout is serving a federal jail sentence for agreeing to promote weapons to a Colombian insurgent group, then designated by the USA as a terrorist group, which he believed can be used in opposition to American troops.

Russia has but to answer the supply, John F. Kirby, a Nationwide Safety Council spokesman, mentioned in a briefing earlier on Friday. He added that the administration has stayed in contact with relations of each detainees all through the method.

“We now have made a severe supply to get Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan again house,” Mr. Kirby mentioned. “The Russians haven’t responded to that provide. However that doesn’t imply that we’re not nonetheless in negotiations and we’re not nonetheless attempting.”

The negotiations are sophisticated by the extraordinarily tense relations between Washington and Moscow over the battle in Ukraine, which the USA is supplying with billions of {dollars} in army support to struggle Russia’s invasion.

Ms. Griner, a W.N.B.A. star and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was arrested after touchdown in February at a Moscow-area airport, the place the Russian authorities say they discovered two vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her baggage. After she pleaded responsible, a Russian court docket convicted her final month and sentenced her to 9 years in jail.

Mr. Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who was working as a company safety government, was arrested in December 2018 in a Moscow resort room after receiving a flash drive that investigators mentioned contained categorized info. He was sentenced in June 2020 to a 16-year jail sentence.

The Biden administration has categorized each Ms. Griner and Mr. Whelan as “wrongfully detained” and assigned their instances to its hostage affairs workplace.

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