You are here
Home > News > Biden To Meet With Family of Brittney Griner

Biden To Meet With Family of Brittney Griner

Joe Biden, the President of the United States, will be meeting with Brittney Griner’s family on Friday. Brittney is currently being held at a Russian prison for drug offenses.

Biden will meet also with Paul Whelan’s family, who is currently in Russia on espionage and has been held there since 2018.

The Associated Press reported that the “separate meetings are to be the first in-person encounter between Biden and the families and are taking place amid sustained but so far unsuccessful efforts by the administration to secure the Americans’ release.”

“He wanted to let them know that they remain front of mind and that his team is working on this every day, on making sure that Brittney and Paul return home safely,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing on Thursday at the White House, as quoted by the Associated Press.

A Russian court found her guilty and she was sentenced to nine-and a half years imprisonment.

The symbolism of her detention in the US-Russian relationship deterioration has reached both the top diplomatic levels in each country.

A prisoner swap has been proposed by the United States that would allow Griner and Whelan to be released in return for Viktor Bout (a Russian arms dealer currently in a 25 year sentence in U.S. prison).

“While I would love to say that the purpose of this meeting is to inform the families that the Russians have accepted our offer and we are bringing their loved ones home — that is not what we’re seeing in these negotiations at this time,” Jean-Pierre said on Thursday, as quoted by the Associated Press. “The Russians should accept our offer. The Russians should accept our offer today.”

Griner’s legal team filed an appeal of the conviction last month, a process that will likely take months.

Griner played for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA. She pleaded guilty but maintained that she didn’t intend to violate the law.

She was traveling back to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg, the Russian team she plays for during the WNBA’s offseason.

“I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them,” Griner said in the Russian courtroom last month as she plead for leniency. “I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home.”

Following Griner’s sentencing last month, Biden denounced the ruling.

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” Biden said in his statement.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,” Biden said.

Antony Blinken, Secretary of State in the United States, has condemned the conviction.

“It puts a spotlight on our very significant turn with Russia’s legal system and the Russian government’s use of wrongful detentions to advance its own agenda using individuals as political pawns,” Blinken said last month.

Blinken has called the United States’ offered prisoner exchange a “substantial proposal.”