The President of the United States has announced that he is working on the repatriation of former soldier Paul Whelan et de let star du basketball Brittney Grinerwhose business took on a geopolitical dimension in the context of the crisis between Moscow and Washington linked to the Russian offensive in Ukraine.
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The American president assured, Friday, September 16, the families of two Americans detained in Russia, basketball star Brittney Griner and former soldier Paul Whelan, that he “continued to explore all possible avenues” to repatriate them, the White House said in a statement. The basketball player was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court for cannabis trafficking, while Paul Whelan is serving a 16-year prison sentence for “espionage”.
Joe Biden met separately with Elizabeth Whelan, sister of Paul Whelan, and Cherelle Griner, wife of Brittney Griner. “The President is grateful to have had the opportunity to learn more about Brittney and Paul,” said his spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre in this press release, which gives no indication of the ongoing negotiations with Russia.
Earlier in the day, John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council attached to the White House, had assured that “Discussions continued.” “The president is not going to let go. He is confident that this issue will remain at the forefront of his mind and that of his team,” Mr. Kirby added.
Russia had recently said it was ready to discuss a prisoner exchange for the sportswoman. John Kirby assured that Washington had made an offer “serious” in Moscow, but that the Russians “did not answer”. “These two people should already be at home. Period,” he added.