- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 19, 2022

President Biden issued an executive order Tuesday designed to reduce the risk of Americans being wrongfully detained abroad as he faces pressure to bring home basketball star Brittney Griner and others detained in Russia.

The order adds a risk warning, or “D indicator,” to State Department travel advisories to warn Americans about wrongful detentions by foreign governments. It joins the “K indicator,” which covers the risk of kidnapping and hostage-taking by non-state actors.

Mr. Biden’s order also allows U.S. agencies to impose financial sanctions and other penalties on those who are involved, directly or indirectly, in hostage-taking or wrongful detention.

“The executive order will generate expanded and enhanced ways to address the hostage-taking and wrongful detention of Americans abroad,” a White House fact sheet said. “This E.O. reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued commitment to bringing them home.”

The order calls on agencies to develop strategies to deter future detentions and improve the way they communicate with the families of loved ones who are detained abroad.

The White House is under immense pressure to bring home Ms. Griner, who pled guilty in Russia to charges related to cannabis-derived oil that inspectors found in her airport luggage.

Mr. Biden is also looking for ways to free Paul Whelan, another U.S. national detained in Russia.

“This E.O. is informed by our regular communications with the families and other stakeholders who have undertaken incredible advocacy efforts on behalf of their loved ones,” the White House said Tuesday. “The Biden-Harris Administration appreciates the continued diligence of such families and considers them essential partners in our efforts to bring Americans home.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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