Brittney Griner Case: Biden Signs Executive Order Aimed At Countries That Wrongfully Detain Americans

The administration has come under pressure to negotiate the WNBA star’s freedom.

President Biden signed an executive order on Tuesday (July 19) aimed at securing the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and other Americans detained abroad whom the administration deems wrongfully detained.

The executive order says that “malicious actors,” including terrorist organizations, criminal groups and foreign governments seeking political leverage, are a threat to the global political system and the safety of Americans.

“I therefore determine that hostage-taking and the wrongful detention of United States nationals abroad constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.  I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with this threat,” the order states.

Griner, 31, has been detained in Russia since February after her arrest at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow for allegedly carrying hashish oil vape cartridges in her luggage, which can carry a 10-year prison sentence. The two-time Olympic gold medalist pleaded guilty to drug charges on July 7 but said she had no criminal intent.

Meanwhile the U.S. State Department has classified Griner as “wrongfully detained” by its former Cold War enemy, as renewed tension escalates over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The order authorizes U.S. government agencies to impose sanctions on countries that wrongfully detained Americans, which could add new sanctions on Russia after its Ukraine invasion, according to Newsweek. It also allows government agencies to share information and intelligence they’ve gathered with the detainees’ families.

"This [executive order] is informed by our regular communications with the families and other stakeholders who have undertaken incredible advocacy efforts on behalf of their loved ones," Newsweek quotes a White House statement. "The Biden-Harris Administration appreciates the continued diligence of such families and considers them essential partners in our efforts to bring Americans home."

RELATED: Brittney Griner’s Russian Trial Lawyer Argues She Was Not Transporting Drugs

RELATED: Brittney Griner’s Wife, WNBA Players Association President, And More Call For Star’s Release

The administration has come under pressure to secure Griner’s release. Griner’s wife Cherelle, WNBA Players’ Association President Nneka Ogwumike, Rev. Al Sharpton, Seattle Storm star Sue Bird and union leader Terri Jackson were among Griner’s supporters at a July 8 press conference who called on government officials to act quickly.

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