© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to media earlier than boarding Air Power One as he departs for Washington from New Fort, Delaware, U.S., September 11, 2022. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
By Trevor Hunnicutt and Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden met on Friday with households of two Individuals being held by Russia, and personally reassured them he’s working to achieve freedom for the detainees.
Biden sat down within the Oval Workplace with Cherelle Griner, spouse of WNBA star Brittney Griner, and Elizabeth Whelan, sister of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.
Biden carried out the separate conferences to guarantee the households that the detainees “are at entrance of thoughts,” mentioned White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
“We’ll proceed to do all the pieces that we will, working tirelessly every single day, to be sure that we get them , house,” she informed reporters.
Nationwide Safety Adviser Jake Sullivan joined Biden on the conferences, the White Home mentioned.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA) star, was sentenced to 9 years in a Russian jail on drug expenses on Aug. 4, a verdict that Biden known as “unacceptable”.
America in late July mentioned it has put ahead a “substantial supply” to safe the discharge of the 2 Individuals.
Final month, Russia’s international ministry mentioned it was engaged in “quiet diplomacy” with america a few potential prisoner swap that would embrace Griner and Whelan.
However there have been few public developments on the problem over the previous weeks.
Washington has provided to trade Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout for Griner and Whelan, sources aware of the state of affairs have informed Reuters.
“A considerable supply is on the desk and they need to settle for it,” mentioned Jean-Pierre.
Whelan, who holds American, British, Canadian and Irish passports, was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in jail after being convicted of spying. He denied the cost.
Griner, who had been prescribed medical hashish in america to alleviate ache from power accidents, was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in February with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her baggage.
Hashish is prohibited in Russia for each medicinal and leisure functions.