- US President Joe Biden receives the families of Griner and Whelan this Friday
- The Secretary of State has proposed a prisoner swap with Russia
The White House noted this Friday that it is still waiting for Russia to respond to its proposal to release basketball player Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, detained and convicted in that country.
“We have made a serious proposal for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan to come home. The Russians have not yet replied, but that does not mean that we are not still negotiating or that we are not still trying,” the spokesman for the Council of Homeland Security, John Kirby.
In addition, Kirby reported that this Friday the US president, Joe Biden, receives the families of Griner and Whelan. “The main objective of the meeting is to inform the families of how things are. Unfortunately, we do not have a result to announce, but the president considered it important to continue the dialogue with the families,” said the minister.
Griner, a player in the WNBA, the American women’s basketball league, has been detained in Russia since last February for drug possession and smuggling. The world and Olympic champion was sentenced to nine years in prison last August by a Russian court, although she said that she did not do it with bad intentions.
For his part, Whelan, a former Marine arrested in Moscow in December 2018, is sentenced to 16 years in prison for espionage.
The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has proposed to his Russian colleague, Sergei Lavrov, the exchange of Griner and Whelan for the “merchant of death” Victor But, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in an American prison.
“The Russians should accept this offer. We have put a substantial offer on the table and they should accept it,” said White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre.