US President Joe Biden has confirmed that he will not meet with Vladimir Putin at the upcoming G-20 Summit, unless Putin is willing to discuss the release of Brittney Griner.
The queer American basketball player and Olympic gold medalist was arrested in Moscow’s airport in February for possessing less than a gram of cannabis oil. She pled guilty to the charge, acknowledging that she accidentally had her vape cartridges in her suitcase, but explained that she had no intention of breaking the law. Griner was prescribed cannabis for medical use in the States, but the substance is illegal in Russia.
Despite pleading guilty, a Russian court sentenced her to nine years in prison in August.
The US has maintained that she has been unfairly detained, and Biden previously promised to pursue every avenue to bring Brittney home. This included the Biden Administration proposing a substantial offer to Putin involving an exchange of prisoners in July to secure Brittney Griner’s release.
During a press briefing earlier this month, queer White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that there’s been no progress on negotiations with Putin. Russian officials previously said that they were ready to discuss a prisoner exchange, but have not responded to the offer.
According to Griner’s lawyer, the athlete is increasingly anxious about her chances of being freed. She has appealed her nine-year sentence, and a Russian court scheduled the appeal hearing for October 25.
In November, global leaders will gather in Bali, Indonesia, for the annual G-20 summit. When asked about his plans to speak with Putin, Biden told CNN, “I have no intention of meeting with him. But for example, if he came to me at the G-20 and said, ‘I want to talk about the release of Griner,’ I’d meet with him. I mean, it would depend.”
He added, “He’s acted brutally. I think he’s committed war crimes. I don’t see any rationale to meet with him now.”
Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, met with President Biden in September and said, “I’ve felt every minute of the grueling seven months without her. I look forward to the day my wife is back home.”
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