The situation involving WNBA star Brittney Griner and her potential release from a Russian prison remains in flux and ever-evolving. In the meantime, President Joe Biden has scheduled a meeting on Friday with the families of Griner and Paul Whelan, another American currently imprisoned in Russia.
AP Exclusive: President Biden to meet with the families of WNBA star Brittney Griner and Michigan businessman Paul Whelan, who remain jailed in Russia. The White House meeting on Friday comes amid efforts by the administration to secure their release. https://t.co/NRe8vOkmlp
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 15, 2022
Griner has been detained in Russian since February 17 when airport authorities allege to have found vape cartridges containing a cannabis derivative inside her luggage. She was put on trial, found guilty, and is now serving a nine-year sentence for drug smuggling and possession charges, even though the cannabis had been prescribed to her.
The U.S. and Russia have been in negotiations for some time now to find a way to get Griner back home. As many experts have said the Russian legal process was a sham and “political theater,” the goal was to entice negotiations for a prisoner swap that could see the basketball star and Whelan returned home for Russians currently held in U.S. prisons. It is expected that there could be a resolution soon.
In the meantime, or perhaps because a deal is nearing its conclusion, Biden has invited the families to the White House, reportedly “to make sure their families know they remain front of mind and that his team is working on this every day.”
Tomorrow Pres. Biden will meet with families of Brittany Griner and Paul Whelan detained in Russia, aides say "to make sure their families know they remain front of mind and that his team is working on this every day."
— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) September 15, 2022
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also said on Thursday that, “as we have said before, we believe that Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney and Paul under intolerable circumstances.” She also added that “we have been directly engaged with the Russian government through appropriate channels.”
While it’s unfortunate that the news doesn’t mean a resolution is close, it’s good to know how committed the White House remains to bring Griner home safely.