On August 4, WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold winner Brittney Griner is seated while taking in the verdict in a courtroom in Khimki, Russia, not far from Moscow. As the closing arguments of her drug possession prosecution in Russia were being heard in court, Griner apologized to her family and teams. Cover photo by Evgenia Novozhenina for AP
switch to caption AAP/Evgenia Novozhenina
On August 4, WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner listened to the decision in a courtroom in Khimki, Russia, not far from Moscow. As the closing arguments of her drug possession prosecution in Russia were being heard in court, Griner apologized to her family and teams.
AAP/Evgenia Novozhenina Brittney Griner, a WNBA star, and Paul Whelan, a former Marine, are being held in Russia under what the government has called “intolerable circumstances.” President Biden met with their families on Friday.
According to the White House, Biden met separately with Elizabeth Whelan and Cherelle Griner in the Oval Office. The US and Russia are still in talks about perhaps exchanging prisoners in exchange for the release of the two Americans.
According to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement , “The President held the meetings to emphasize his sustained commitment to working via all possible means to bring Brittney and Paul home safely.” He inquired about Elizabeth, Cherelle, and each of their families’ well-being at this difficult period.
By hearing from people who care about Brittney and Paul the most, Biden “loved the opportunity to learn more about them and understood that every minute they are being held is a minute too long.” Added Jean-Pierre.
Griner, who has been detained in Russia for the past seven months, was given a nine-year prison term last month after it was claimed that he had marijuana vape cartridges in his hands. In 2020, a Russian court found Whelan guilty of espionage and gave him a 16-year prison term.
Iframe with src=”https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1114183865/1114183866″ width=”100%” for listening height=”290″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” NPR audio player embedded title Brittney Griner wrote to the president in July, saying she was “terrified I might be here forever,” and shortly after that, the president called with Cherelle Griner.
In a prisoner exchange, will the United States release a Russian arms dealer? The Biden administration believes the two are unjustly incarcerated, and Viktor Bout, a renowned Russian arms trader who was given a 25-year term in 2011, has reportedly been mentioned as a possible prisoner swap partner.
As we have already stated, Brittney and Paul are being unlawfully held by Russia in horrible conditions, according to Jean-Pierre. Additionally, as you are aware, we have been in direct contact with the Russian government via the proper channels.
Griner, 31, who competes with the Phoenix Mercury and has won two Olympic gold medals, She has participated in WNBA offseason games with Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg club since 2014. She was detained in February as she entered the nation to get ready for the playoffs for having marijuana vape cartridges.
Whelan, 52, also made frequent trips to Russia in the open but was apprehended in 2018 and found guilty of espionage in a covert proceeding.
For security concerns, Jean-Pierre stated she was unable to discuss specifics of the Biden administration’s conversations with Russia, although she did state that Russia had not responded favorably to their proposal.
She stated, “While I would want to say that the goal of this meeting is to tell the families that the Russians have accepted our offer and we are sending their loved ones home, at this point in the negotiations, that is not what we’re seeing.”
She said, “The Russians ought to accept our offer.” “They ought to accept our offer right now. Until the day we get to deliver that happy news, we’ll keep working hard.”