Biden meets Griner, Whelan families at White House | Politics News

Households are pushing US to safe launch of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, held in Russia.

US President Joe Biden has met with the households of basketball star Brittney Griner and former marine Paul Whelan, amid ongoing efforts in Washington to safe two Americans’ launch from detention in Russia.

Biden sat down within the Oval Workplace on Friday with Cherelle Griner, the spouse of Griner, and Elizabeth Whelan, the ex-marine’s sister.

The conferences started shortly earlier than 5pm (21:00 GMT), the White Home mentioned.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White Home press secretary, mentioned earlier this week that Biden hoped the face-to-face talks will present the households “that they continue to be entrance of thoughts” for the USA administration.

“Whereas I might like to say that the aim of this assembly is to tell the households that the Russians have accepted our supply and we’re bringing their loved-ones house, that’s not what we’re seeing in these negotiations right now,” Jean-Pierre informed reporters.

Griner, a Girls’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA) and two-time Olympic gold medallist, was sentenced to 9 years in jail final month over drug fees.

She was arrested in February, days earlier than Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and her case has moved by way of the Russian courtroom system amid frayed relations between Moscow and Washington over the warfare.

Whelan, a Marine veteran, was sentenced to 16 years in jail in 2020 on espionage fees.

The US State Division has known as the detention of each US residents unjustified.

Earlier on Friday, a White Home Nationwide Safety Council spokesperson mentioned negotiations with Moscow to safe the 2 Individuals’ launch are ongoing.

“The president felt it was essential to proceed the dialogue with the members of the family … We’ve got stayed in contact with them all through; we’ve saved them knowledgeable all through,” John Kirby informed reporters.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned in July that Washington made a “substantial proposal” to Moscow to free Griner and Whelan.

A number of US media retailers reported round that point that the Biden administration supplied a prisoner change involving a Russian arms supplier detained within the US.

On Friday, Kirby informed reporters that Russia has not responded to that provide, “however that doesn’t imply that we’re not nonetheless in negotiations or we’re not nonetheless making an attempt”.

Moscow mentioned final month that it was “prepared” to debate a prisoner swap cope with Washington.

In the meantime, Griner’s relations, teammates and supporters have been calling on the US authorities to place its full weight behind the case to push for her launch.

Griner was accused of bringing vape canisters containing hashish oil into Russia, the place she was set to play for a basketball staff in Yekaterinburg.

Regardless of the deteriorating ties between Washington and Moscow, Russia in April freed Trevor Reed, a former US marine. In change, the US launched Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was serving a 20-year sentence within the US over drug fees.

Lebanese banks to close next week after more branches are stormed | Banks News

Lebanese banks have stated they’ll quickly announce a three-day closure subsequent week over mounting safety issues following a collection of incidents involving individuals searching for entry to their financial savings by getting into banks armed with weapons.

On Friday, eight banks have been held up by depositors who demanded their very own cash, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reported, including to a spate of holdups this week spurred by frustration over a spiralling monetary implosion ad infinitum.

Lebanese banks have insisted that {dollars} be withdrawn solely after being exchanged into Lebanese kilos at a vastly inferior charge to the black market, which is usually the speed used throughout the nation.

A person with a gun that turned out to be a toy was arrested after holding up a Lebanese financial institution within the southern metropolis of Ghazieh, a safety supply stated.

Native Lebanese information stated the person managed to acquire $19,200 from his deposits earlier than handing himself over to the police.

Individually on Friday morning, an armed man entered a department of BLOM Financial institution within the Lebanese capital’s Tariq al-Jdideh neighbourhood making an attempt to withdraw his cash, the financial institution stated in a press release, including that the scenario was underneath management.

The person, recognized as Abed Soubra, was cheered on by a big crowd of individuals gathered exterior – a scene that has performed out in a number of such incidents.

“Abed is demanding his cash, $275,000 in financial savings,” Khodr stated, talking exterior the financial institution. “He’s saying he can now not survive and he’s in debt and that he has a proper to his cash.”

Rabih Kojok, an area resident on the scene, stated Soubra is a service provider and owes individuals cash.

“What ought to he do? Go to jail as a result of individuals want cash from him whereas he has cash within the financial institution? He’s in the suitable,” he stated.

In a 3rd incident, a person armed with a pellet gun entered a department of LGB Financial institution in Beirut’s Ramlet al-Bayda space searching for to withdraw some $50,000 in financial savings, a financial institution worker stated, including the scenario was persevering with and that workers and prospects have been caught inside.

In response to Khodr, a union known as the Outcry Affiliation has declared struggle in opposition to the banks.

“That’s the phrases they’re utilizing,” she stated. “They’re promising that these incidents are going to occur time and again.”

‘Verbal and bodily assaults’

Friday’s incidents adopted two others within the capital, Beirut, and within the city of Aley on Wednesday wherein depositors have been in a position to entry a portion of their funds by power, utilizing toy pistols mistaken for actual weapons.

Final month, a person was detained after he held up a Beirut financial institution to withdraw funds to deal with his sick father however was launched with out cost after the financial institution dropped its lawsuit in opposition to him.

Lebanon’s banking affiliation urged authorities on Thursday to carry accountable these partaking in “verbal and bodily assaults” on banks and stated lenders themselves wouldn’t be lenient.

Banks stated they are going to be closing on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as a “precautionary measure”, Al Jazeera’s Khodr stated.

Khodr added that the teams representing depositors believed this could work of their favour, as safety service and different authorities personnel would additionally not be capable to entry their accounts whereas the banks have been closed, doubtlessly growing the federal government’s urgency to discover a answer.

Extreme financial disaster

Lebanon has been grappling with a extreme financial disaster since 2019, leaving most individuals locked out of their financial institution accounts and unable to pay for fundamentals.

For greater than two-and-a-half years, Lebanon’s banks have imposed restrictions on depositors’ cash in overseas foreign money, particularly the US greenback. The banks have additionally set tight ceilings on withdrawing cash in Lebanese kilos – which has misplaced 95 p.c of its worth for the reason that onset of the disaster.

The capital controls have been by no means formalised by legislation however courts have been sluggish to rule on depositors’ makes an attempt to acquire financial savings by way of litigation in opposition to banks, main some to hunt other ways of getting their cash.

The World Financial institution has described the disaster in Lebanon as among the many severest for the reason that mid-1800s.

Poverty in Lebanon has drastically elevated through the previous yr and now impacts about 80 p.c of the inhabitants, in accordance with a UN report.