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Brittney Griner’s Sentence Renews Pressure on President Biden

  • August 05, 2022

“We believe it’s important for the American people to know how hard President Biden is working to get Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan home,” John F. Kirby, a White House national security spokesman, said at the time. “We think it’s important for their families to know how hard we’re working on this.”

After Ms. Griner was sentenced on Thursday, Mr. Biden renewed his commitment to “pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”

The White House would not say how Mr. Biden might achieve that goal, however. “I don’t think it would be helpful to Brittany or to Paul for us to talk more publicly about where we are in the talks and what the president might or might not be willing to do,” Mr. Kirby said.

But almost any additional offers would be sure to amplify criticism from Mr. Biden’s other flank — and charges that Mr. Biden was bending to extortion by Mr. Putin, a man he has called a war criminal.

“This is why dictatorships — like Venezuela, Iran, China, Russia — take Americans hostage, because they know they’ll get something for it,” Rep. Mike Waltz, Republican of Florida, told Newsmax last week. “They know eventually some administration will pay. And this just puts a target on the back of every American out there.”

Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state, echoed the criticism in a Fox News interview last week, saying that to free Mr. Bout would “likely lead to more” Americans being arrested abroad. And former President Donald J. Trump, who when in office prided himself on freeing detained Americans abroad, slammed the proposed deal in crude terms.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/05/us/politics/brittney-griner-russia-biden.html

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