President Biden to meet with Whelan, Griner families to discuss ongoing efforts towards their release

Posted at 5:34 AM, Sep 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-16 05:34:35-04

(WXYZ) — President Joe Biden is set to meet with Elizabeth Whelan and the family of WNBA star Brittney Griner at the White House Friday to discuss the ongoing efforts toward the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.

Elizabeth Whelan is the sister of the Novi native who remains jailed in Russia.

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Jenn live intro: Back in July, the Biden administration made a substantial proposal to secure both Americans but so far, that effort has been unsuccessful.

Friday's separate meetings are to ensure both families that efforts are ongoing.

“We have followed up on that offer repeatedly and will continue to pursue every avenue to bring them home safely,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “He wanted to let them know that they remain front of mind.”

The White House has distanced itself from the former U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson who played a significant role in not only Trevor Reed’s release, but also Danny Fenster's release from a Myanmar prison.

Richardson recently traveled to Russia and met with its leadership. The Biden administration has maintained that Americans should not be traveling to Moscow.

Whelan’s brother David was cautiously optimistic when he spoke with 7 Action News last month. Shortly after, Secretary of State Antony Blinken made public that an offer to Russia was on the table.

"It's hard for me to believe that the Russian government wouldn't go for some sort of deal at this point," Paul's brother David Whelan said.

At that time, David was also worried for his brother’s health. Paul has lost weight and has less access to food due to cuts in the prison.