WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is facing nine years in a Russian prison, met with U.S. Embassy officials in Moscow on Thursday, the Biden administration confirmed.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a tweet that the American representatives “saw firsthand her tenacity and perseverance despite her present circumstances.”
“We continue to press for the immediate release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan and fair treatment for every detained American,” Price tweeted.
Griner, a WNBA star and an Olympic gold medalist, was detained in February for bringing vape cartridges with hashish oil into Russia. Griner pleaded guilty in August, but she has insisted she did not intend to break the law.
The 32-year-old’s appeal was recently rejected by the Russian courts.
Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary said Griner “is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances” and that the administration was working “to resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful detentions” of Griner and Whelan.
Paul Whelan is another American in Russia who was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison on espionage-related charges.
According to ABC News, Thursday’s visit marks the first time U.S. officials have been able to gain direct Griner since early August. On her birthday on Oct. 18, they were able to speak with her over the phone.
“Despite a lack of good faith negotiation by the Russians, the U.S. government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with Russians through all available channels. This continues to be a top priority,” Jean-Pierre added.