Biden signs executive order 'to bring hostages and wrongfully detained' Americans home

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Tuesday signed an executive order aimed at deterring the wrongful detention of U.S. nationals in foreign countries, CNBC reports.

"This executive order reflects the administration's commitment not just to the issues generally but to the families in particular and it has been informed by the government's regular engagements with them," a senior administration official said.

The order empowers the government to impose sanctions on individuals involved in hostage-taking, adds a new State Department travel advisory to warn American travelers about the risk of wrongful detention, and provides more information to the families of Americans who have been wrongfully detained in foreign countries.

Biden signed the order after facing criticism for failing to do more to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who pleaded guilty to drug charges earlier this month and could face up to 10 years in Russian prison. Griner was arrested in February at an airport near Moscow after authorities reportedly discovered a vape cartridge containing cannabis in her luggage. Russian media have floated the idea of swapping Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year sentence in the United States.

Just days before pleading guilty, Griner sent Biden a handwritten letter begging him not to "forget about me."

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