WASHINGTON — President Biden will meet with the households of Brittney Griner and Paul N. Whelan on the White Home on Friday, making good on a longstanding request from the kin of the 2 Individuals being held prisoner in Russia.
However the president doesn’t have excellent news to ship concerning the prisoner trade that the administration provided Russia this summer time, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White Home press secretary, stated on Thursday.
“Whereas I might like to say that the aim of this assembly is to tell the households that the Russians have accepted our supply, and we’re bringing their family members house, that’s not what we’re seeing in these negotiations at the moment,” Ms. Jean-Pierre stated.
“The president needed to guarantee that their households understood that they had been entrance of thoughts,” she added, “and that his staff was working tirelessly day by day to get Brittney and Paul house safely.”
Ms. Griner, a W.N.B.A. star and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained in Russia in February after the Russian authorities discovered vape cartridges with 0.7 grams of hashish oil in her baggage when she arrived within the nation to play basketball. She was convicted final month of making an attempt to smuggle narcotics into Russia and sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony. Mr. Whelan, a former Marine and company safety govt, was arrested in 2018 and convicted in 2020 on spying expenses and later sentenced to 16 years in jail.
What to Know Concerning the Brittney Griner Case
The fates of each Individuals have been sophisticated by the deteriorating diplomatic relationship between the USA and Russia over President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Mr. Biden has condemned Mr. Putin’s actions in Ukraine, and the USA has joined with different nations to impose extreme sanctions on the nation.
Regardless of that, Mr. Biden’s administration provided this summer time to free Viktor Bout, a Russian arms vendor sentenced to 25 years by a court docket in New York in 2012, in trade for the discharge of Ms. Griner and Mr. Whelan.
Russian officers have confirmed that diplomatic discussions are going down, however White Home officers have been pissed off by the dearth of a response to the supply.
“The Russians ought to settle for the supply that’s on the desk, and we’ll encourage them to try this,” Ms. Jean-Pierre stated on Thursday.
Within the meantime, the households of Ms. Griner and Mr. Whelan have been growing public stress on Mr. Biden to make sure that his administration doesn’t let up.
The Plight of Brittney Griner in Russia
The American basketball star has endured months in a Russian jail on expenses of smuggling cannabis oil into the nation.
Early in the summertime, kin of each prisoners expressed frustration that they’d not heard straight from Mr. Biden. Cherelle Griner, Ms. Griner’s spouse, stated on CBS in early July that the administration was “not doing something” and that she needed to listen to from Mr. Biden straight. Two days later, Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Cherelle Griner.
That prompted Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Mr. Whelan, to publicly query why she had not acquired the same name. In a name quickly after, Mr. Biden assured Ms. Whelan that the administration was working to free each of the prisoners.
Since then, there was continued stress for Mr. Biden to satisfy with the households head to head. Ms. Jean-Pierre stated on Thursday that the assembly was scheduled for Friday as a result of one of many members of the family was already going to be within the space and that the president needed to satisfy with each households on the identical day.
It isn’t clear whether or not the president will meet with the households collectively or individually.
The opportunity of reaching a prisoner-exchange take care of Russia comes a number of months after the USA freed a convicted Russian drug smuggler in trade for Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine who had been detained in a Russian jail for 3 years. White Home officers stated their Russian counterparts indicated on the time that one other commerce, for Mr. Bout, could possibly be doable.
Mr. Bout is called the “Service provider of Dying” for his actions as an arms vendor. He’s serving a 25-year federal jail sentence for promoting arms to undercover U.S. brokers, telling them he didn’t object to the usage of the weapons to kill Individuals.