Jul 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden signs executive order to deter wrongful detentions abroad

US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner gets handcuffs taken off before a hearing at the Khimki Court in the town of Khimki outside Moscow on July 15, 2022.

WNBA star Brittney Griner before a hearing at the Khimki Court outside Moscow on July 15. Photo: Natalia KolesnikovaAFP via Getty Images

The White House announced Tuesday an executive order aimed at bolstering the administration's efforts to "bring hostages and wrongfully detained United States Nationals home," including sanctioning individuals who are involved in hostage-taking.

Driving the news: "This [executive order] expands the tools available to deter and disrupt hostage-taking and wrongful detentions," the White House said in a statement.

  • The administration's action also includes a new State Department travel advisory to inform American travelers "of the risk of wrongful detention by a foreign government."

The big picture: The move comes amid mounting pressure on the U.S. government to bring WNBA star Brittney Griner home.

  • Griner was detained in Russia in February after authorities found vape cartridges in her luggage.
  • Griner's lawyers told a Russian court last week that doctors in the U.S. prescribed the WBNA star medical cannabis two years ago for chronic pain.

Between the lines: Families of hostages have criticized the Biden administration for not doing more to bring their loved ones home.

  • "As we always try to, we provided the White House with a simple plan for engaging with families more than a week ago," Jonathan Franks, the spokesman for Bring Our Families Home campaign, said in a statement.
  • "Instead, the White House is taking executive action to direct itself to follow existing law. The families continue to await a reply to their requests for meetings with President Biden."

Go deeper... WNBA star Brittney Griner's trial begins in Russia

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