Our family was so grateful for the outpouring of support for Paul yesterday. The continued affirmation of the US government's determination to bring him home means the world to us. President Biden's statement, Vice-President Harris' and Speaker Pelosi's tweets, and the statement from the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee all showed this ongoing commitment to free Paul.
[ President Biden's Statement on the Sentencing of Wrongfully Detained American Brittney Griner ]
[ Vice-President Harris on Twitter, 8/4/2022 ]
[ Speaker Pelosi on Twitter, 8/4/2022 ]
[ House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, statement, 8/4/2022 ]
[ White House press briefing, 8/4/2022 ]
The Russian government has repeated its preference to discuss these cases out of public view. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov went so far as to say continued public discussion might cause concessions not to be made. Foreign Minister Lavrov said today that the Russian government is open to having those discussions, through the "specific channel approved by our President" in June 2021 in Geneva and that is the relevant channel to use.
[ Dmitry Peskov, 8/5/2022: "If we discuss through the press at least some nuances related to the topic of exchanges, then these exchanges will never take place" (Interfax)]
[ Foreign Minister Lavrov, 8/5/2022: Russia "ready to discuss" prisoner swap for Griner and Whelan, Lavrov says (Axios/YouTube)]
Ms. Griner's defense has indicated her intention to appeal her conviction. Like you, we will watch to see the outcome. Chapter 389 of the Russian Criminal Procedure Code gives the defense 10 days to appeal. A Russian legal expert could probably explain whether there could be additional legal appeals (to a higher court if this first appeal is denied, or repeated appeals to the same court on different issues: failure of judge to consider the evidence, appropriateness of sentence, etc.).
[Chapter 389: Порядок восстановления срока апелляционного обжалования ]
I am personally sorry for what Ms. Griner is experiencing. Hopefully, it is merely a terrible precursor to her freedom in the near future. We hope the Biden Administration is able to bring the Russian government to an agreement that sees both Ms. Griner and Paul return home as soon as possible.
Thanks for continuing to follow Paul's case.