President Joe Biden met at the White House with Cherelle Griner, Brittney Griner’s wife, on Friday to discuss ongoing attempts to free the WNBA star from a Russian prison.
Biden also talked separately with Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is also being held in Russia in what American authorities consider to be an unlawful detention.
According to a statement from Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, “The President held the meetings to reiterate his continued commitment to working through all available avenues to bring Brittney and Paul home safely. He asked after the wellbeing of Elizabeth and Cherelle and their respective families during this painful time. The President appreciated the opportunity to learn more about Brittney and Paul from those who love them most, and acknowledged that every minute they are being held is a minute too long.
“Today’s meetings come after earlier meetings and conversations that the President, his national security team, and the State Department have held with the Whelan and Griner families to keep them updated on efforts to secure the release of their loved ones as quickly as possible. We all admire the courage of the Whelan and Griner families in the face of these unimaginable circumstances, and we remain committed to reuniting them with their loved ones.”
Russia has yet to accept the United States’ offer of a prisoner swap.
Griner, the Phoenix Mercury center, was arrested on Feb. 17 at a Moscow-area airport when authorities found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.
Griner, 31, was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony on Aug. 4 on drug smuggling and possession charges.
Whelan, a corporate security executive, was convicted of espionage charges and is serving a 16-year sentence. Whelan, 52, was arrested in December 2018.
–Field Level Media