WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden met with relations of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan on Friday the place he reaffirmed his dedication to pursuing all out there avenues to convey their family members residence from Russia.
“The president appreciated the chance to study extra about Brittney and Paul from those that love them most, and acknowledged that each minute they’re being held is a minute too lengthy,” the White Home stated Friday night.
The conferences with Griner’s spouse, Cherelle, and Whelan’s sister, Elizabeth, which happened individually, had been the primary in individual between Biden and the relations, although they’ve spoken by telephone.
Griner was sentenced to 9 years in jail by a Moscow courtroom final month, and her protection group is interesting. Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport Feb. 17 after authorities stated they discovered cannabis-infused vape cartridges in her baggage.
Whelan has been detained since 2018 and is serving a 16-year sentence.
The U.S. authorities has stated each have been wrongfully detained.
“Sadly, we don’t have a outcome right here to inform you about, however the president felt it was necessary to proceed the dialogue with the relations, that’s occurring as we speak,” stated John Kirby, Nationwide Safety Council coordinator for strategic communications, on Friday forward of the assembly. “We’ve got stayed in contact with them all through, we’ve got stored them knowledgeable all through, however the negotiations are nonetheless ongoing.”
The White Home has been in talks with Russian officers over the discharge of the 2 Individuals, and Biden stated final month that he was hopeful a deal may very well be made to launch Griner. However since then, there have been few indicators of progress from the administration.
NBC Information reported in July that the U.S. had supplied to trade Griner and Whelan for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms vendor who has been serving a 25-year jail sentence. In August, after Griner’s sentencing, Russia stated it was prepared to debate the potential of a swap, however U.S. officers say the Russians haven’t give you a critical counteroffer.
“They haven’t responded to our provide. We’ve got made a critical provide to get Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan again residence, the Russians haven’t responded to that supply, however that doesn’t imply that they weren’t nonetheless in negotiations and we’re not nonetheless making an attempt,” stated Kirby.