The Biden administration Wednesday expressed concerns about the health and wellbeing of former US Marine Paul Whelan. Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in a Russian penal colony in 2018 after being convicted of espionage conviction for possessing a flash drive with classified information.At a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated:Our embassy in Moscow has been working to understand exactly Paul’s condition and why his family hasn’t heard from him. It is a concern. We’re all worried — very much worried about Paul and about Brittney Griner as well. As we have said repeatedly, they shouldn’t be detained in the first place. They should be home with their families today. But we will keep working on bringing them home.Secretary of State Antony Blinken shared similar concern regarding Whelan’s condition, explaining Wednesday the US has not seen Whelan since November 16 and cannot provide an update on his health condition.WNBA star Brittney Griner is similarly detained in a Russian penal colony after a Russian court upheld her conviction and nine-year prison sentence for possession of canabis oil. Earlier this week, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby updated the public on Griner’s wellbeing, saying:For privacy reasons I’m not going to get into much detail about her physical health. I can just tell you we’re taking that very serious. Knowing where she is and what penal colonies are designed to do, we’re trying to make sure we have as much access and information about her condition as possible. We’re doing the best we can to stay on top of this.The high-profile convictions of Whelan and Griner helped to spur a July executive order from Biden aimed at detering and punishing the wrongful detention of Americans abroad.

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