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On Friday, Brittney Griner’s family will meet with President Biden at the White House according to a White House press briefing.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing Thursday that Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, will be meeting with the President “to discuss his continuing commitment to bring [her] home safely.”
President Biden will also be meeting with the sister of Paul Whelan, a Michigan corporate security executive who also remains jailed in Russia.
President Joe Biden plans to meet at the White House on Friday with family members of Brittney Griner and Michigan corporate security executive Paul Whelan, both of whom remain jailed in Russia, senior administration officials told the AP.
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“As we have said before, we believe that Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney and Paul under intolerable circumstances. And as you know, we have been directly engaged with the Russian government through appropriate channels,” Jean-Pierre told reporters.
Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison after being found guilty of an attempt to smuggle illegal narcotics into Russia during a trial last month.
The White House has maintained Griner is being wrongfully detained and they are doing everything to bring her and Whelan home.
“One of the things that the President wanted to make clear is, and one of the reasons he is meeting with the families, is that 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,” Jean-Pierre said.
Friday will be the first in-person meeting between the President and the families of the two wrongfully detained Americans.
In April, U.S. Marine Trevor Reed was released in a prisoner exchange trading Reed, who was jailed in Moscow, for convicted Russian drug trafficker Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in the U.S. in 2010.
The White House said they have been using the same channels that secured Reed’s release to secure the release of Griner and Whelan.
In May, a potential prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russia was heavily discussed, with Griner being exchanged for notorious Russian arms dealer Victor Bout, nicknamed “the merchant of death,” but no deal ever materialized.