Biden order aims to prevent American detentions by hostile regimes

The order comes amid domestic pressure on the Biden administration to repatriate two American citizens detained in Russia

Updated: July 19, 2022 - 5:51pm

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President Joe Biden on Tuesday issued an executive order to help keep Americans from being illicitly held in the custody of a hostile government.

The Department of State currently issues travel advisories to foreign nations, assigning them various indicators on the basis of American safety while traveling there. Biden's order will create a "D indicator" to signal that Americans face the risk of wrongful arrest should they visit a country with the label, the Washington Times reported.

“The executive order will generate expanded and enhanced ways to address the hostage-taking and wrongful detention of Americans abroad,” read a fact sheet from the White House.

The order comes amid domestic pressure on the Biden administration to repatriate two American citizens detained in Russia as the diplomatic situation over the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the American sanctions on Moscow intensifies.

Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) player Brittney Griner is currently in Russian custody over alleged drug trafficking. She was arrested at a Moscow airport in February when airport authorities discovered vape canisters filled with cannabis oil in her luggage. She faces 10 years in prison.

Also in Russian custody is Paul Whelan, an American businessman and former U.S. Marine who was sentenced to 16 years in prison on charges of espionage. Whelan was arrested in 2018 and convicted in 2020 in a closed-door trial. The Biden administration continues to face pressure for his return to the U.S.

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