The White House told reporters on Thursday that they are aggressively pursuing every avenue to bring home Britney Griner to the United States after Russia sentenced the women's basketball star to nine years in prison on drug charges.
During a Thursday press conference, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that negotiations between the Biden administration and Russia to bring Griner home remain ongoing.
"Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney," Jean-Pierre said. "She never should have had to endure a trial in the first place. We have repeatedly called for Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates."
"Under President Biden's direction, the US government continues to work aggressively pursuing every avenue to bring home Brittney, Paul Whelan, and every American held hostage and wrongfully detained around the world," she continued.
The White House press secretary reiterated the Biden administration's previous offer to Russia. Last month, Biden offered to exchange convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout for the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.
"We urge Russia to accept that proposal," Jean-Pierre said. "I'm not able to share more publicly at this time but we are willing to take every step necessary to bring home our people as we demonstrated with Trevor Reed."
In 2020, former US marine Trevor Reed was sentenced to nine years in prison for endangering the "life and health" of Russian police officers in an altercation in 2018. Reed was released and brought back to the United States in March after the Biden administration negotiated a prisoner swap for Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko.
"I can assure you that this is something our President and National Security team are focused on every single day," Jean-Pierre continued. "The President receives regular updates about the status of our negotiations to secure Brittney's release, as well as the release of Paul Whelan and other US nationals who are wrongfully detained or held hostage in Russia and around the world."
John Kirby, US National Security spokesman, told reporters during the press conference that the United States' offer to Russia remains on the table.
"We're still open to having our proposal seriously and positively considered...we want them to take the offer that's on the table because it's a good one, it's a fair one, and it will help bring Paul and Brittney home," Kirby explained. "If this is what it's going to take them to get to a 'yes' then okay, let's get them to yes. Let's get them home."
When asked if further discussions on the release of the two US jailed citizens have been made between the United States and Russia, Kirby said that he will not be doing "public negotiations."
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