President Joe Biden Meeting With Brittney Griner’s Wife at the White House

President Joe Biden Meeting With Brittney Griner’s Wife at the White House

According to NBC News, President Joe Biden will meet with the wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner. Griner has been detained in a Russian jail since Feb. 17 following her arrest at the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow for allegedly possessing 0.702 grams of cannabis oil in her luggage.

Biden will reportedly meet with Cherelle Griner and Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of former Marine Paul Whelan, who is also detained in Russia. The meetings with each family member will be separate.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the president would talk with the family members about his commitment to bringing Griner and Whelan safely home.
“One of the things that the President wanted to make clear is, and one of the reasons he’s 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,” said Jean-Pierre.

The announcement comes several months after former United Nations Ambassador Bill Richardson was tapped to negotiate the Americans’ release. ABC News reported that the Biden administration now requests that private citizens cease negotiations on behalf of the U.S. government.

“Our message is that private citizens should not be in Moscow at all right now and that private citizens cannot negotiate on behalf of the United States government,” said National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby.

Ned Price from the State Department echoed that sentiment.

“Our concern is that anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to hinder the efforts that we have undertaken to see the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner,” he said.

“Of course, families are perfectly free to engage to consult with outside voices, with outside entities but again, we want to make sure that any outside effort is fully and transparently coordinated with us and, in this case, we believe that any efforts that fall outside of that officially designated channel have the potential to complicate what is already an extraordinarily complicated challenge.”