Paul Whelan's family to meet with President Biden as Novi-native remains imprisoned in Russia
(FOX 2) - President Joe Biden will meet with the families of two Americans in captivity in Russia today, including Novi-native Paul Whelan who was convicted of espionage charges after his arrest in 2018.
Relatives of both Whelan and WNBA Star Brittney Griner will meet with Biden separately at The White House Friday.
The Biden Administration has an offer on the table for the safe return of both Americans. It includes a prisoner swap for Viktor Bout, a convicted arms trafficker who is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in the U.S.
There's no indication the deal has gone through.
Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison after she was charged with possession of cannabis oil that was found in her luggage while flying out of the country. Whelan was sentenced to 16 years.
The White House said Thursday the meeting with the president was an expression that the government was still doing everything it could to return the two incarcerated Americans.
READ MORE: Family of Novi man imprisoned in Russia is encouraged after US offers trade of arms dealer
Whelan's family said it had new hope they may see him again after the exchange offer was made public in July. It's unclear if Russia would accept the deal. While family is encouraged by the possibility of seeing their relative again, they also worried that a worse fate awaits Whelan.
Prisoners that have stayed with the man have volunteered to help Russia's war effort with its invasion of Ukraine. "What we understand is that 10 of the prisoners have now volunteered to go to the front in the war against Ukraine," David Whelan told FOX 2 at the time. "We had heard that the Russian military was recruiting in the prisons, so it seems to have gotten to Paul's prison now."