Updated Jul 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Trevor Reed accuses White House of "not doing enough" to bring Brittney Griner home

Picture of Brittney Griner

Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko-Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who until recently was detained in a Russian prison, said that the White House is "not doing enough" to bring home WNBA star Brittney Griner and American businessman Paul Whelan.

Driving the news: Reed's comments come a day after Ned Price, spokesperson for the State Department, said that it is an "absolute priority" of the administration to get Griner and Whelan out of Russia.

  • "[J]ust as we do with Paul Whelan, we are working around the clock, behind the scenes, quietly, to do everything we possibly can to see to it that Brittney Griner’s ordeal, just as Paul Whelan’s ordeal, is put to an end just as soon as can be possibly managed."
  • President Biden spoke with Griner's wife this month "to reassure her that he is working to secure Brittney’s release as soon as possible."
  • Whelan has been detained since 2018 and was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison on spying charges.

What he's saying: "I can't say 100% what the White House is or is not doing — that's obviously not public information," Reed said on NBC's "Hallie Jackson NOW."

  • "But, in my opinion, the White House has the ability to get them out extremely fast, and they clearly have chosen not to do that. So no, in my opinion, they’re not doing enough."

What's happening: “President Biden has been clear about the need to see every American who is wrongfully detained or held hostage abroad released, including Brittney Griner," White House spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

  • "Months ago, he directed his national security team to pursue every avenue to bring Brittney home safely to her family, friends and loved ones. The U.S. government continues to work aggressively, pursuing every avenue, to make that happen."
  • Biden "receives regular updates about the status of our negotiations to secure Brittney’s release, as well as the release of Paul Whelan and other U.S. nationals who are wrongfully detained or held hostage in Russia and around the world."

Don't forget: Reed had been detained in Russia since 2019 and was released in April, after he was arrested for allegedly assaulting two police officers.

  • Reed and his family say that the charges brought against him were false and politically motivated.

State of play: Griner had another court hearing on Tuesday. Her lawyers argued that while marijuana is illegal in Russia, it is considered to have legitimate medical use in other countries, CNN reports.

  • The lawyers argued that Griner was using the cannabis oil found in her luggage for medical purposes instead of recreational.
  • The attorneys brought a narcologist who said in court that "medical cannabis is a popular treatment specifically among athletes" in countries outside of Russia.

What we're watching: Griner's trial is expected to end next month, per CNN. She faces up to 10 years in prison.

Go deeper