Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner and the wife of Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine convicted on espionage charges in Russia, met with President Joe Biden.
According to ESPN, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre met with the wives separately to assure Griner and Whelan "are at front of mind.”
"We're going to continue to do everything that we can, working tirelessly every day, to make sure that we get them home," Jean-Pierre said to reporters. She also added that Biden "appreciated the opportunity to learn more about Brittney and Paul from those who love them most, and acknowledged that every minute they are being held is a minute too long.”
Cherelle Griner said in a statement after the meeting, "I've felt every minute of the grueling seven months without her. I look forward to the day my wife is back home. As my family and I continue on this journey, I'd like to thank the broad coalition of friends, leaders and supporters who continue to stand with us and advocate for Brittney's swift and safe return. Let's share a unified commitment to bringing all Americans home to their families and loved ones. Together We Are BG."
She also said it was an honor to speak with Biden about "the Brittney we know and love.”
There have been talks of a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russia for over a month. There were reports of trading Griner and Whelan for accused Russian spy Victor Bout. In 2011, Bout was convicted of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and officials. He is known as the "Merchant of Death.”
Former Nevada Governor and diplomat Bill Richardson Richardson, who runs The Richardson Center for Global Engagement, which negotiates prisoner and hostage releases, recently met with Russian officials. While Griner’s wife was supportive of the meeting, the Biden administration stated Richardson is not representing the U.S. The details of the meeting are unknown, but in April of this year, Richardson helped to release former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed from a Russian prison.
On Feb. 17, Griner, 31, who had been playing for UMMC Yekaterinburg in Russia, was arrested by Russian Federal Customs Service at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow. Agents said they found hashish oil vape cartridges in her luggage. According to The Washington Post, she was charged with transporting a “significant amount,” or 0.702 grams, of cannabis oil. Griner’s arrest came amid tension escalating over Russia invading Ukraine.