(FiveNation.com)- Just weeks after a Russian court rejected imprisoned WNBA player Brittney Griner’s appeal, officials from the US Embassy in Moscow visited Griner in jail.
In a tweet last week, State Department spokesman Ned Price revealed the visit, saying that embassy officials “saw firsthand” Griner’s “tenacity and perseverance despite her present circumstances.” Price also said the Biden administration is pressing for the immediate release of both Griner and Paul Whelan, and the “fair treatment for every detained American.”
In August, Griner was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison for carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport. Griner maintains that she made “an honest mistake” when she brought the vape cartridges through the airport.
In 2020, former US Marine Paul Whelan was sentenced to 16 years on espionage-related charges. Whelan has denied the charges.
The United States considers both Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan to be wrongful detainees and has been trying to negotiate their release.
Over the summer, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US had presented Russia with a “substantial proposal” to secure their release. People familiar with the offer said the administration proposed to swap Whelan and Griner for Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms dealer.
Since that time, there have been no outward signs of progress in the negotiations.
Last week, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Brittney Griner was “doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances” and reiterated that the administration is working “to resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful detentions” of both Griner and Whelan.
Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to New Mexico that the US has continued to follow up on the proposal “despite the lack of good faith negotiation by the Russians.” She said alternative proposals “through all available channels” have been offered as well.