Topline

President Joe Biden signed an executive order Tuesday that weighs sanctions against people involved in wrongfully imprisoning Americans, part of an effort to help “hostages and wrongfully detained United States nationals” like WNBA star and Russian detainee Brittney Griner.

Key Facts

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The order allows the US to “to counter and deter hostage-takings and wrongful detentions by terrorist organizations, foreign governments, and other actors,” including by possibly imposing financial sanctions or visa bans.

However, a senior Biden Administration official told reporters specific sanctions will not be immediately introduced as a result of the executive order.

The order also ensures contact with the hostage or detainee’s family is “coordinated,” and that they receive “consistent and accurate information” from the government.

The State Department also introduced a new travel risk indicator warning Americans to avoid visiting countries where they’re in danger of being detained, a list that includes Myanmar, China, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela, according to the Associated Press,

Key Background

Griner, a gold medal basketball player and star for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, was detained in Russia in February on drug charges. Griner recently pleaded guilty but her trial is ongoing, and she faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. The US considers Griner to be wrongfully detained. Earlier this month, Biden spoke with Griner's wife Cherelle for the first time since she was detained, and communicated through a letter with Griner directly. Biden has faced some criticism from the families of Griner and Paul Whelan, who is serving 16 years in Russian prison on espionage charges, for not doing enough to negotiate their release. Family members of those who have been detained abroad were informed of the new executive order Monday, according to CNN, Whelan's sister Elizabeth told CNN Tuesday the new executive order is "a significant move, and extremely welcome."

Tangent

Terri Jackson, executive director of the Women's National Basketball Players Association, told Daily Show host Trevor Noah on Monday “we need this president to do whatever it takes to bring BG home.”

Brittney Griner Had Doctor's Note For Cannabis Use, Lawyers Say In Russian Court (Forbes)

Brittney Griner's Russian Teammate And Director Provide Character Witness In Trial (Forbes)

'How Can She Feel Like America Has Her Back': LeBron James Wonders If Griner Should Want To Return To US (Forbes)

Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty To Russian Drug Charges (Forbes)