International

Americans detained in Russia: Paul Whelan, 2 others being held

President Biden announced on Thursday that the U.S. has secured the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner after she was detained in Russia for nearly 10 months.

U.S. officials worked extensively behind the scenes to free Griner, who was detained in February for carrying a small amount of cannabis oil. Griner was reportedly swapped for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Griner’s case received high-profile attention after she was detained amid soaring tensions between the U.S. and Russia.

Earlier this year, former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed was also released in a prisoner swap with Russia.

At least three Americans are still detained in Russia, including another former U.S. Marine, Paul Whelan, who was previously included in talks to be released along with Griner.

Since 2017, Russia has held at least one U.S. citizen in detention per year, according to a September report from the Bringing our Families Home campaign.

Here’s a look at those citizens:

Paul Whelan

Whelan, a corporate security executive, traveled to Moscow in December 2018 for a wedding and was detained by Russian authorities on espionage charges.

In 2020, the former Marine received a 16-year prison sentence in what the U.S. has called a sham trial.

Whelan, 52, was ordered to serve time at a prison labor camp in the province of Mordovia.

Last month, Whelan was moved to a prison hospital for undisclosed reasons.

Marc Fogel

Fogel, a history teacher from Pittsburgh who taught the children of U.S. diplomats abroad, was detained in Moscow in August 2021. He had with him a small amount of medical marijuana he used for chronic back pain.

In June, Fogel, 61, was sentenced to 14 years at a labor camp.

The federal government has not designated Fogel as wrongfully detained.

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) introduced a resolution last month to inquire into why Fogel has not been designated as wrongfully detained.

Sarah Krivanek

Krivanek, 46, moved to Russia from Fresno, Calif., five years ago to teach at a Russian private school.

Last year, Krivanek was involved in a domestic abuse situation with her boyfriend and allegedly grabbed a knife to defend herself, nicking him slightly.

Krivanek was arrested by Russian authorities and detained for roughly a year despite her boyfriend retracting the charges.

She was released last month but detained again at a Moscow airport when she tried to leave the country, according to People magazine.

Krivanek is not incarcerated but is also not authorized to return home. She is waiting in a holding facility while she figures out how to leave Russia.

Krivanek’s friend is raising money for her release on GoFundMe.

The State Department told People that requests to talk to Krivanek have been repeatedly denied or delayed by Russian authorities.

Tags Biden Brittney Griner Brittney Griner Paul Whelan Paul Whelan Russia Viktor Bout
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