Washington [US]December 9 (ANI): US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has hailed the release of American basketball player Brittney Griner from Russian detention. He stated that the administration will continue its efforts to bring Paul Whelan back to the United States.
Griner was released in a prisoner swap involving Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, according to CNN. Blinken said Cherelle Griner spoke with his wife Brittney and emphasized that listening to them for the first time after the basketball player’s release was as touching as it was unforgettable. Blinken did this during a joint press availability with Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.
In his remarks, Blinken further said, “Their strength and resilience has been nothing short of inspiring.” He thanked the team from the US State Department and colleagues across the US government who worked tirelessly to secure the release of Brittney Griner. Blinken expressed gratitude to “Emirati friends,” who he emphasized helped with Brittney Griner’s transition.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed that securing the release of Americans “wrongfully imprisoned” remains a top priority for him. He acknowledged that the administration continues to make efforts to bring Paul Whelan back to the United States. He claimed that Russia remains unwilling to end the “wrongful detention” of Paul Whelan. He said the United States had the ability to bring home a prisoner from Russia.
“And while we are delighted to have Brittney back home, we continue to work relentlessly to bring Paul Whelan home as well,” said Antony Blinken.
“Despite our efforts, the Russian government has not yet been willing to end his illegal detention. They continue to insist on bogus charges of espionage and treat Paul’s case differently. As a result, Paul and his loved ones continue to suffer needlessly and unjustly. here was not a choice of which American to bring home. The choice was one or nothing,” he added.
Furthermore, Antony Blinken said he “wholeheartedly” wishes they could bring Paul Whelan back home on the same plane as Brittney Griner. He stressed that the US administration will continue to work with the Whelan family to secure his release.
He went on to say, “We will never relent until Paul and, for that matter, all other American citizens held hostage or wrongfully imprisoned overseas are free and come home and reunite with their families, where they belong.” According to CNN, Whelan, a US citizen and former Marine who was arrested in 2018 on espionage charges, is serving a 16-year sentence. Paul Whelan has denied the allegation.
Earlier on Thursday, US President Joe Biden shared a picture with Brittney Griner’s wife on the microblogging site. While sharing the photo on Twitter, Biden said: “A moment ago I spoke with Brittney Griner. She’s safe. She’s on a plane. She’s on her way home.” (ANI)
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