President Joe Biden on Friday will meet with the family of American basketball star Britney Griner.
Biden will also meet with the family of American Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges.
The Associated Press reported “The separate meeting will be the first in-person meeting between Mr. It is being done,” he said.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a press conference: “He made sure that Britney and Paul got home safely, that they were always on his mind and that his team was working on this every day. I wanted to let them know that I was there,” he said Thursday at the White House. As quoted by the Associated Press.
She was convicted by a Russian court last month and sentenced to nine and a half years in prison.
Her detention has become a symbol of deteriorating U.S.-Russian relations and has reached the top levels of diplomacy between the two countries.
The US is seeking a prisoner exchange that will release both Griner and Whelan in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in the US.
“I would like to say that the purpose of this meeting is to inform the families that the Russians have accepted our offer and are bringing their loved ones home, but that is the current state of these negotiations. It’s not something you’ll see in the ,” Jean-Pierre said on Thursday, As quoted by the Associated Press“Russians should accept our offer. Russians should accept our offer today.”
Griner’s legal team filed an appeal against the conviction last month, but the process could take months.
Griner, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, pleaded guilty to drug charges but insisted he never intended to break the law.
She was back in Russia to play for UMMC Yekaterinburg, the Russian team that plays during the WNBA offseason.
“I would like to apologize to my teammates, the club, the fans and the city of Yekaterinburg for the mistakes I have made and the shame they have caused,” Griner told a Russian court last month. “I also want to apologize to my parents, my brother, my hometown Phoenix Mercury, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my wonderful hometown spouse.”
Following Griner’s ruling last month, Biden denounced the ruling.
“The fact that American citizen Britney Griner was sentenced to prison today is a reminder that the world already knew: Russia was unlawfully detaining Britney,” Biden said in a statement. said.
“This is unacceptable. I urge Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates,” Biden said.
Secretary of State Anthony Brinken also condemned the conviction.
Blinken said last month that “our very important issue is the legal system in Russia and how the Russian government uses unjustified detention to advance its own policies by using individuals as political pawns.” It puts the spotlight on change,” he said.
Brinken called the prisoner exchange proposed by the United States a “substantial offer.”