The White House on Brittney Griner’s Release from Russian Prison Ahead of Paul Whelan: “Bring Brittney Home or No One”


    President Joe Biden on Thursday celebrated the announcement that his administration had secured the release of WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner, who was imprisoned in Russia. “Brittney is an incomparable athlete,” Biden stated, noting that she was a two-time Olympic gold medalist for the United States.

    Griner was detained in February at the Moscow airport by Russian officials for possession of marijuana vape cartridges.

    “She represents the best about America—just across the board, everything about her,” Biden declared.

    The Biden administration obtained Griner's release after agreeing to exchange the release of Viktor Bout, a convicted international arms dealer, for her freedom.

    The announcement of Griner's release shocked Americans who have been calling for freeing ex-U.S. Marine Paul Whelan from Russia, who has been detained for almost four years.

    Biden attempted to deflect criticism by claiming “this was not a choice of which American to bring home.”

    The president said, “Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul's case differently than Brittney's.”

    He said he would continue working to secure Whelan's release. He also admitted that Whelan’s family could have “mixed emotions” about Griner’s release.

    “We’ll keep negotiating in good faith for Paul’s release. I guarantee that,” he added. “I say that to the family: I guarantee you.”

    The White House argued Thursday during the daily briefings with reporters that their only option was to “bring Brittney home or no one.”

    “She is an important role model, an inspiration to millions of Americans particularly the LGBTQI+ Americans and women of color,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declared.


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