Brittney Griner meets with US Embassy officials while imprisoned in Russia
Brittney Griner, the women’s basketball star who has been detained for months in Russia, met Thursday with officials from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, the Biden administration confirmed.
“We are told she is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Griner, a star in the WNBA and an Olympic gold medalist, was detained in February for bringing vape cartridges with hashish oil into Russia. Griner pleaded guilty in August, but she has insisted she did not intend to break the law.
She was later sentenced to nine years in prison, and a Russian court has since rejected an appeal. Griner’s legal team has said they are exploring the possibility of additional appeals in her case.
Ned Price, a spokesperson for the State Department, tweeted the embassy officials who met with Griner “saw firsthand her tenacity and perseverance despite her present circumstances.”
“We continue to press for the immediate release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan and fair treatment for every detained American,” Price tweeted.
Jean-Pierre noted that the U.S. made a “significant offer” to the Russians seeking the release of Griner and Whelan, a former Marine who has been held in Russia since 2018 on spying charges that he vehemently denies.
“In the subsequent weeks, despite a lack of good-faith negotiation by the Russians, the U.S. government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with Russians through all available channels,” Jean-Pierre said. “This continues to be a top priority.”
The Biden administration had reportedly floated a potential prisoner swap in which Griner and Whelan would be released in exchange for convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, though officials have not confirmed the specifics of the offer.
President Biden in September met with family members of both Griner and Whelan at the White House.