Biden Commits To Brittney Griner & Paul Whelan’s Families To Bring Them Home Safely

President Joe Biden met with family members of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan — both detained in Russia — and reaffirmed the commitment of the U.S. government to bring them home.

The meeting was held at the White House last Friday. Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, and Whelan’s sister, Elizabeth Whelan, met separately with the president at the Oval Office, according to a White House statement.

“The President held the meetings to reiterate his continued commitment to working through all available avenues to bring Brittney and Paul home safely,” read the statement. “He asked after the wellbeing of Elizabeth and Cherelle and their respective families during this painful time.”

Griner, a WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, had been detained in Russia since February when she was arrested at an airport for carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. In August, she was sentenced to nine years in prison.


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Whelan, a retired Marine, has been detained for almost four years. He was arrested at a Moscow hotel in December 2018 on espionage charges. He was convicted in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. He denies the allegations.

The U.S. government considers both convictions unfair and politically motivated.

Marcello Correa

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