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Biden meets with Brittney Griner’s wife amid stalemate on 9-year sentence

President Biden met Friday on the White House with Cherelle Griner, the wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who’s serving a nine-year jail sentence in Russia for marijuana — as US efforts to win her launch falter.

The night meeting was closed to reporters and Cherelle Griner was not anticipated to talk with reporters afterward.

Biden additionally hosted Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Paul Whelan, who Russia sentenced to 16 years in jail in 2020 for allegedly spying.

Griner, 31, pleaded responsible in July to possessing a small quantity of hashish oil when she was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Feb. 17, precisely one week earlier than Russia invaded Ukraine prompting harsh US sanctions.

The US authorities declared that Griner was “wrongfully detained” and reportedly supplied to launch notorious Russian arms vendor Viktor Bout, who’s jailed within the US, in trade for Griner and Whelan.

The Kremlin hasn’t agreed to the swap — because the US sends billions of {dollars} value of weaponry and monetary help to assist Ukraine’s authorities in combating off Russia’s invasion.

Cherelle Griner has been vital of the Biden administration’s earlier inaction.

“They have not responded to our offer,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby mentioned Friday. “We have made a serious offer to get Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan back home. The Russians have not responded to that offer.”

A Russian authorities spokesperson beforehand denied that Griner’s prosecution was political, saying, “She violated Russian law, and now she’s being prosecuted.”

Cherelle Griner has been vital of the Biden administration’s efficiency, telling The Associated Press in June that she hadn’t been capable of communicate with her wife in 4 months.

“I find it unacceptable and I have zero trust in our government right now,” Cherelle Griner mentioned on the time.

Whelan has been imprisoned in Russia since 2020.
Biden additionally hosted Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Russian political prisoner Paul Whelan.

The Phoenix Mystery middle’s wife spoke with Biden by telephone on July 6 after venting concerning the lack of progress within the case.

Marc Fogel, one other US citizen jailed in Russia in June bought a 14-year sentence for possessing what he mentioned was medical marijuana. The US authorities hasn’t included him within the proposed prisoner swap. 

Marijuana reform advocates level out that Biden has not but fulfilled his 2019 marketing campaign pledge to free “everyone” in federal US prisons for pot crimes, which he can do with his constitutional clemency powers.

There are 2,700 federal pot inmates, in line with a current congressional estimate, together with some with life sentences, together with Pedro Moreno, 62, who distributed marijuana imported from Mexico from 1986 to 1996. Another federal inmate, Luke Scarmazzo, 42, has served 14 years of a 22-year sentence for working a medical marijuana business in California.

Biden is an opponent of outright marijuana legalization, although he says he helps decriminalization of the drug.

As a senator, Biden authored laws that despatched some pot sellers to jail for life with out parole. And final year, the White House fired no less than 5 staffers who admitted to previous pot use.

There has been a prisoner swap proposed to bring Whelan home.
Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in Russian jail for allegedly spying.

Outgoing President Donald Trump commuted the sentences of seven folks serving life phrases for marijuana in 2021 — together with two males who got life with out parole beneath the three-strikes provision of the Biden-authored 1994 crime regulation.

Marijuana is authorized for medical or leisure use beneath state regulation in most components of the US, however American authorities nonetheless arrested greater than 350,000 folks in 2020 for pot offenses, in line with FBI knowledge.

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