Officials of the United States Embassy in Moscow visited imprisoned WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday.
State Department spokesman Ned Price wrote on Twitter that the American representatives, “saw firsthand her tenacity and perseverance despite her present circumstances.”
“We are told she is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One.
The visit comes after a Russian court last week rejected Griner’s appeal of her nine-year sentence for drug possession.
She has been imprisoned since her arrest in February after being caught bringing less than a gram of cannabis oil into the country.
Once the appeals process is over, she could be transferred to a penal colony.
Potential prisoner exchange?
According to Jean-Pierre, President Joe Biden’s administration is pressing Russia, “to resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful detentions,” of Griner and Paul Whelan, a former US Marine also imprisoned in Russia
He was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison in Russia on espionage-related charges that he and his family say are bogus.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said over the summer that the US had made a “substantial proposal” to Russia to try to secure their release.
Biden told relatives of Griner and Whelan in a White House meeting in September that his administration was committed to bringing them home.
The US has offered to exchange Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer currently serving a 25-year prison sentence, for the two Americans.
On Thursday Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said Moscow would seek the release of as many of its citizens as possible in any future prisoner exchange with Washington.
This came despite Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s saying last week that a potential prisoner exchange could only be negotiated quietly.
lo/msh (AP, Reuters)
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