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Ryan Robertson

Anchor/Investigative Reporter

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International

Biden’s executive order to help American detainees might not help Griner

Jul 19, 2022

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Ryan Robertson

Anchor/Investigative Reporter

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President Joe Biden signed a new executive order Tuesday. The order aims to punish people who wrongfully detain Americans abroad and provide more information to the families of detainees.

The plight of detained American citizens abroad is gaining attention largely because of the ongoing detention of WNBA star Brittney Griner. Griner’s story of getting arrested at a Russian airport for THC vape cartridges, and the sham drug-trafficking trial that followed, brought into focus the population of Americans jailed overseas and designated by the U.S. State Department as “wrongfully detained.”

Biden’s executive order would allow the administration to apply sanctions on people believed to be involved in the wrongful detention of Americans. The order could apply to government officials or to criminals and terrorists who aren’t affiliated with any government.

The basis for this action relies on a section of an existing hostage-taking accountability act that authorizes the president to impose sanctions, including visa revocations, on people thought to be involved in the wrongful detention of Americans.

The order also directs federal agencies to be more transparent with the families of detainees and share more information about their case and efforts to get their loved ones home.

Also, the State Department is adding a new risk indicator to its travel advisories. The risk indicators, similar to ones already used by the Department for things like crime and health, will warn travelers about nations where there’s believed to be an increased risk of detention. The “D” for detention risk indicator will initially be applied to Burma, China, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela.

The Biden Administration said the executive order will hold criminals accountable.

A spokesperson for the Bring Our Families Home Campaign, a group that advocates for hostages and detainees, said the White House is taking executive action to direct itself to follow existing law.

It’s unclear whether this new executive order will have any impact on bringing Brittney Griner home, or any of the dozens of other Americans wrongfully detained overseas.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN WANTS TO PUNISH PEOPLE  WHO WRONGFULLY DETAIN AMERICANS ABROAD, AND PROVIDE MORE INFORMATION TO THE FAMILIES OF DETAINEES.

TO THAT END, THE PRESIDENT SIGNED AN EXECUTIVE ORDER TUESDAY ADDRESSING THESE TWO THINGS.

THE PLIGHT OF DETAINED AMERICAN CITIZENS ABROAD IS GAINING ATTENTION THANKS TO THE ONGOING DETENTION OF WNBA STAR BRITTNEY GRINER.

GRINER’S STORY OF GETTING ARRESTED AT A RUSSIAN AIRPORT FOR THC VAPE CARTRIDGES, AND THE SHAM DRUG-TRAFFICKING TRIAL THAT FOLLOWED, BROUGHT INTO FOCUS THE POPULATION OF AMERICANS JAILED OVERSEAS AND DESIGNATED BY THE U.S. AS WRONGFULLY DETAINED.

BIDEN’S EXECUTIVE ORDER WOULD ALLOW THE ADMINISTRATION TO APPLY SANCTIONS ON PEOPLE BELIEVED TO BE INVOLVED IN THE WRONGFUL DETENTION OF AMERICANS. THE ORDER COULD APPLY TO GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, OR TO CRIMINALS AND TERRORISTS WHO AREN’T AFFILIATED WITH ANY GOVERNMENT.

THE ORDER ALSO DIRECTS FEDERAL AGENCIES TO BE MORE TRANSPARENT WITH THE FAMILIES OF DETAINEES,  AND SHARE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THEIR CASE AND EFFORTS TO GET THEIR LOVED ONES HOME.

THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION SAYS THE EXECUTIVE ORDER WILL HOLD CRIMINALS ACCOUNTABL.

A SPOKESPERSON FOR A GROUP THAT ADVOCATES FOR HOSTAGES AND DETAINEES SAID THE WHITE HOUSE IS TAKING EXECUTIVE ACTION TO DIRECT ITSELF TO FOLLOW EXISTING LAW.

IT’S UNCLEAR WHETHER THIS NEW EXECUTIVE ORDER WILL HAVE ANY IMPACT ON BRINGING BRITTNEY GRINER HOME, OR ANY OF THE DOZENS OF OTHER AMERICANS WRONGFULLY DETAINED OVERSEAS.