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Griner’s Fate Tangled up With Other American Held in Russia | Political News

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By ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Brittney Griner is definitely essentially the most outstanding American locked up by a overseas nation. But the WNBA star’s case is tangled up with that of a lesser-known American additionally imprisoned in Russia.

Paul Whelan has been held in Russia since his December 2018 arrest on espionage expenses he and the U.S. authorities say are false. He was ignored of a prisoner change in April that introduced residence one more detainee, Marine veteran Trevor Reed. That has escalated stress on the Biden administration to keep away from one other one-for-one swap that doesn’t embrace Whelan — even because it presses for the discharge of Griner, an Olympic gold medalist whose case has drawn world consideration.

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For Griner and Whelan, the opposite’s case injects one thing of a wild card into their very own, for higher or worse.

The U.S. authorities could not conform to a deal in which simply certainly one of them is launched, probably complicating negotiations. But Whelan may additionally profit from the eye given to Griner, which has forged a highlight on his case. And although the U.S. could hesitate to present up a high-level Russian prisoner in change for Griner, who’s charged with a comparatively minor drug offense, it is doable it could be extra inclined to take action if each she and Whelan had been a part of any deal.

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The potential interaction between the instances just isn’t misplaced on the households and supporters of Whelan and Griner.

“It’s nonetheless very uncooked,” Whelan’s sister, Elizabeth Whelan, mentioned of her brother being excluded from the Reed deal. “And to suppose we’d should undergo that once more if Brittney is introduced residence first is simply horrible.”

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But “what’s actually dangerous” about feeling that method, she hastened so as to add, is that she and her household completely need Griner launched, too. “It’s not like we do not need her residence,” she mentioned. “We need everybody out of there, out of Russia and away from that state of affairs.”

It all provides up to a “sticky wicket,” mentioned Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon, a doctoral scholar on the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in Russia and is advising the WNBA gamers’ affiliation on Griner’s case.

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If Griner, who performs for the Phoenix Mercury, had been to leapfrog Whelan in coming residence, the administration will face scrutiny from Whelan’s supporters. “And if Paul Whelan will get out first, you are going to have questions about why isn’t Brittney out when Brittney hasn’t even been convicted but,” she mentioned.

U.S. officers haven’t mentioned whether or not swaps are being mentioned that might get Griner, Whelan or each residence or whether or not they’d settle for a deal that yields the discharge of 1 without the opposite. A spokesman for the State Department workplace that advocates for wrongfully detained Americans, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, or SPEHA, declined to say how the instances would possibly have an effect on one another however mentioned in a press release that the workplace stays dedicated to securing the discharge of each.

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There’s no query that the February arrest of Griner — Russian authorities detained her at an airport after they mentioned a search of her bag revealed vape cartridges containing oil derived from hashish — has heightened public consciousness across the dozens of Americans who, like Reed and Griner, are categorized as wrongfully detained by overseas governments.

The seven-time WNBA All-Star just isn’t solely one of the crucial dominant figures in her sport but in addition a outstanding homosexual, Black girl. That has prompted questions about the position race and sexual id are enjoying in a rustic the place authorities have been hostile to the LGBTQ group, and about whether or not her case would get extra consideration if it concerned a white male athlete.

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U.S. officers and Griner’s supporters initially mentioned little publicly about her case, however that modified in May when the State Department designated her as wrongfully detained and transitioned her case to the SPEHA workplace.

Griner’s spouse, Cherelle, urged the Biden administration in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” to do something essential to get Griner residence, but in addition expressed empathy for Whelan. She mentioned that despite the fact that there is no connection between the 2 apart from the actual fact they’re each in Russia, “I clearly need him again, too.”

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Griner’s fame cuts each methods, mentioned St. Julian-Varnon. If ever Russia desires to reestablish itself as a rustic hospitable to overseas athletes like Griner, the nation would have vital incentive to launch her. But given Griner’s “political worth” to Russia, it could additionally make an enormous demand for her launch.

“This is the largest chip that they should play,” she mentioned.

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Tamryn Spruill, a contract journalist and creator who launched a Change.org petition demanding Griner’s freedom, mentioned in an e-mail that if her “case could be leveraged to concurrently safe Whelan’s launch — or vice versa — then it’s my hope that the president will exploit all of these avenues.”

Unlike Griner, who’s awaiting trial, Whelan has been convicted and sentenced.

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A company safety government from Michigan who was arrested after touring to Russia for a marriage, Whelan was discovered responsible in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in jail. He and his household have vigorously asserted his innocence. The U.S. authorities has denounced the fees as false.

Reed had additionally been sentenced nicely earlier than the swap that freed him. He had been jailed over what Russian authorities say was a drunken bodily encounter with police in Moscow and was freed in change for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who was serving a 20-year sentence for drug trafficking conspiracy. U.S. officers cited in half Reed’s ailing well being as justification for the commerce.

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It’s unclear which different Russians, if any, could be a part of further exchanges. Russian state media have for years floated the title of infamous arms seller Viktor Bout, although such a deal dangers being seen as lending false equivalency between a Russian the U.S. authorities regards as correctly convicted and Americans it considers unjustly detained.

Jonathan Franks, a marketing consultant who labored on the Reed case, mentioned it was onerous to ascertain a Griner-Bout deal or a Griner deal that did not contain Whelan.

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“I actually imagine Brittney Griner’s quickest path out of Russia is on Air Whelan,” he mentioned.

Elizabeth Whelan mentioned the early morning name she needed to make to her getting old dad and mom to inform them Reed was coming residence however her brother was not just isn’t an expertise she desires to repeat. But she mentioned her household does perceive the chance one prisoner could possibly be freed without the opposite.

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“We’re confronted with a state of affairs the place these hostile overseas nations can assign totally different values to every particular person they’re holding, and may work separate offers. Whichever deal comes by first is usually who comes residence first,” she mentioned, “and it’s under no circumstances a tenable state of affairs.”

Follow Eric Tucker at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP.

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Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials might not be printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Warriors 0-6 on Road, Fall to Pelicans With 4 Starters Out

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By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The defending champion Golden State Warriors fell to 0-6 on the street, shedding 114-105 to Brandon Ingram and the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night time with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins sidelined.

Ingram scored 26 factors in his return from a four-game absence due to a concussion and reserve Larry Nance Jr. scored 20 factors for the Pelicans, together with a number of fourth-quarter dunks that saved Golden State at bay. CJ McCollum scored 20 factors and Zion Williamson added 16 for New Orleans.

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Jordan Poole had 20 factors and 9 assists for the Warriors. Kevon Looney was the one common starter in uniform for Golden State’s second sport in two nights on the finish of a winless five-game journey.

The Warriors are 3-7 total. Among Western Conference groups, solely Houston (1-8) has extra losses.

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Curry, Thompson, Green and Wiggins all had been scratched after taking part in the earlier night time in a loss at Orlando.

The Warriors will not be taking part in Thompson on back-to-back nights due to his anterior cruciate ligament and Achilles tendon accidents in 2019 and 2020. Green is beneath related limitations due to a again damage final season. Curry was being rested due to elbow soreness and Wiggins due to a sore left foot.

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A beginning lineup that as an alternative included Poole and fellow guard Moses Moody, together with forwards Anthony Lamb and Jonathan Kuminga, made the sport aggressive into the fourth quarter.

Ty Jerome, who scored 18 factors, hit a 3 to pull the Warriors inside 99-96 earlier than the Pelicans steadily pulled away through the closing six minutes.

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Trey Murphy III’s 3-pointer capped a 7-0 Pelicans spurt that started with Nance’s dunk and layup and made it 111-101 with two minutes to go. Ingram, who additionally had 5 rebounds, 5 assists and two blocks, obtained a standing ovation when he checked out of the sport within the closing minute.

New Orleans led by as many as 11 within the second quarter when Jose Alvarado intercepted Poole’s go and located Williamson for a breakaway, windmill dunk.

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But the Warriors chipped away and trailed 50-49 on James Wiseman’s putback dunk.

Nance scored the ultimate 4 factors of the quarter on a finger roll and dunk, placing the Pelicans up 61-54 at halftime.

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Warriors: Kuminga completed with 18 factors, whereas Lamb scored 16 and Moody had 14. … Went 12 of 32 from 3-point vary. … In addition to the 4 starters who sat, G/F Andre Iguodala (hip) and G Donte DiVincenzo (hamstring) remained inactive. Iguodala has but to play this season, whereas DiVicenzo hasn’t performed since Oct. 23.

Pelicans: Alvarado and Murphy every scored 10 factors and every hit three 3s to assist New Orleans go 12 of 29 from lengthy vary … Shot 50.6% total (41 of 81) and outrebounded Golden State 51-36.

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated he appreciates that followers paid “good money” to see gamers on his staff who sat out with the objective of preserving their long-term well being.

“Ultimately the gamers’ well being is the No. 1 consider our staff’s success and even our followers’ satisfaction in the long term,” Kerr stated.

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He added that whereas some absences are unpredictable, “it will be smart” for followers to research schedules of groups they need to see and handle expectations when these groups are taking part in on consecutive nights on the finish of a visit, because the Warriors had been.

“Especially once you get a staff with gamers who’ve previous accidents like we do, or guys who’re superior age-wise,” Kerr stated. “I apologize to any followers on the market who had been hoping to see these guys.”

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Warriors: Host Sacramento on Monday.

Pelicans: Visit Atlanta on Saturday.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials will not be revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Twitter Slashes Its Staff as Musk Era Takes Hold on Platform

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By BARBARA ORTUTAY and MATT O’BRIEN, AP Technology Writers

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Twitter started widespread layoffs Friday as new proprietor Elon Musk overhauls the corporate, elevating grave issues about chaos enveloping the social media platform and its capacity to struggle disinformation simply days forward of the U.S. midterm elections.

The pace and size of the cuts additionally opened Musk and Twitter to lawsuits. At least one was filed alleging Twitter violated federal regulation by not offering fired workers the required discover.

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The San Francisco-based firm informed staff by e mail Thursday that they’d study Friday if they’d been laid off. About half of the corporate’s employees of seven,500 was let go, Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of security & integrity, confirmed in a tweet.

Musk tweeted late Friday that there was no alternative however to chop the jobs “when the corporate is dropping over $4M/day.” He didn’t present particulars on the each day losses on the firm and mentioned workers who misplaced their jobs have been supplied three months’ pay as a severance.

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No different social media platform comes near Twitter as a spot the place public businesses and different important service suppliers — election boards, police departments, utilities, faculties and news retailers — preserve individuals reliably knowledgeable. Many worry Musk’s layoffs will intestine it and render it lawless.

Roth mentioned the corporate’s front-line moderation employees was the group the least impacted by the job cuts.

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He added that Twitter’s “efforts on election integrity — together with dangerous misinformation that may suppress the vote and combatting state-backed info operations — stay a prime precedence.”

Musk, in the meantime, tweeted that “Twitter’s sturdy dedication to content material moderation stays completely unchanged.”

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But a Twitter worker who spoke with The Associated Press Friday mentioned it is going to be so much more durable to get that work executed beginning subsequent week after dropping so many colleagues.

“This will influence our capacity to offer help for elections, positively,” mentioned the worker who spoke on the situation of anonymity out of issues for job safety.

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The worker mentioned there’s no “concrete sense of route” aside from what Musk says publicly on Twitter.

“I comply with his tweets they usually have an effect on how we prioritize our work,” mentioned the worker. “It’s a really wholesome indicator of what to prioritize.”

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Several workers who tweeted about dropping their jobs mentioned Twitter eradicated their complete groups, together with one centered on human rights and world conflicts, one other checking Twitter’s algorithms for bias in how tweets get amplified, and an engineering crew devoted to creating the social platform extra accessible for individuals with disabilities.

Eddie Perez, a Twitter civic integrity crew supervisor who give up in September, mentioned he fears the layoffs so near the midterms may permit disinformation to “unfold like wildfire” in the course of the post-election vote-counting interval specifically.

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“I’ve a tough time believing that it doesn’t have a cloth influence on their capacity to handle the quantity of disinformation on the market,” he mentioned, including that there merely might not be sufficient workers to beat it again.

President Joe Biden, at a marketing campaign occasion in Illinois Friday night time, mentioned: “Now what are all of us anxious about? Elon Musk, who goes out and buys an outfit that sends and spews lies all the world over. … How can we count on children to have the ability to perceive what’s at stake?”

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Twitter’s workers have been anticipating layoffs since Musk took the helm. He fired prime executives, together with CEO Parag Agrawal, and eliminated the corporate’s board of administrators on his first day as proprietor.

As the emailed notices went out, many Twitter workers took to the platform to specific help for one another — typically merely tweeting blue coronary heart emojis to indicate its blue chicken brand — and salute emojis in replies to one another.

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A Twitter supervisor mentioned many workers discovered they’d been laid off after they may now not log into the corporate’s methods. The supervisor mentioned the way in which the layoffs have been carried out confirmed a “lack of care and thoughtfulness.” The supervisor, who spoke to the AP on the situation of anonymity out of issues for job safety, mentioned managers weren’t given any discover about who can be getting laid off.

“For me as a supervisor, it’s been excruciating as a result of I needed to discover out about what my crew was going to seem like by tweets and thru texting and calling individuals,” the worker mentioned. “That’s a very arduous approach to care in your individuals. And managers at Twitter care so much about their individuals.”

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A coalition of civil rights teams escalated their calls Friday for manufacturers to pause promoting buys on the platform. The layoffs are significantly harmful forward of the elections, the teams warned, and for transgender customers and different teams dealing with violence impressed by hate speech that proliferates online.

In a tweet Friday, Musk blamed activists for what he described as a “huge drop in income” since he took over Twitter late final week.

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Insider Intelligence analyst Jasmine Enberg mentioned there may be “little Musk can say to appease advertisers when he’s maintaining the corporate in a continuing state of uncertainty and turmoil, and seems detached to Twitter workers and the regulation.”

“Musk wants advertisers greater than they want him,” she mentioned. “Pulling advertisements from Twitter is a fast and painless resolution for many manufacturers.”

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A lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court docket in San Francisco on behalf of 1 worker who was laid off and three others who have been locked out of their work accounts. It alleges Twitter violated the regulation by not offering the required discover.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification statute requires employers with not less than 100 staff to reveal layoffs involving 500 or extra workers, no matter whether or not an organization is publicly traded or privately held, as Twitter is now.

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The layoffs affected Twitter’s workplaces all over the world. In the United Kingdom, it could be required by regulation to offer workers discover, mentioned Emma Bartlett, a accomplice specializing in employment and partnership regulation at CM Murray LLP.

The pace of the layoffs may additionally open Musk and Twitter as much as discrimination claims if it seems, for example, that they disproportionally affected ladies, individuals of shade or older staff.

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AP Business Writers Mae Anderson, Alexandra Olson and Ken Sweet in New York, James Pollard in Columbia, S.C., Frank Bajak in Boston and Danica Kirka in London contributed to this story.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials might not be printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Settlement Reached in Suits Over FBI Posing as AP Reporter

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By LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will get a $145,000 settlement following a pair of lawsuits filed after an FBI agent posed as a reporter for The Associated Press and created a faux story.

The long-running Freedom of Information Act instances led to appeals court docket selections that may assist bolster entry to public information, stated Adam Marshall, an lawyer for the group. The instances additionally make clear FBI brokers posing as members of the media, a tactic that free press advocates say undermines media credibility and blurs strains between legislation enforcement and the press.

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The company did not comply with its personal guidelines over such undercover operations when an agent posed as an AP reporter and despatched a link to a faux story in an investigation in Washington state in 2007, in keeping with paperwork uncovered in the lawsuit filed together with The Associated Press.

Then-FBI Director James Comey known as the approach “correct and acceptable” below FBI pointers on the time, although he stated it might require higher-level approvals when the incident got here to gentle seven years later, in 2014. No precise story was revealed and it led to an arrest, he maintained.

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The agent posing as an AP reporter despatched a link to the faux article to a 15-year-old suspected of creating bomb threats at a highschool. When the teenager clicked the link, a monitoring instrument revealed his pc’s location and helped brokers affirm his id.

The FBI declined to remark Friday.

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Kathleen Carroll, then government editor of the AP, stated in 2014 that the FBI’s “unacceptable techniques undermine AP and the important distinction between the federal government and the press.” A letter signed by two dozen news organizations known as the revelations “inexcusable” and the Reporter’s Committee particularly known as out using the AP’s title as “cowl for delivery of digital surveillance software program.”

Lauren Easton, an Associated Press spokeswoman, declined extra remark Friday.

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The lawsuits had been filed as a part of an effort to get information about FBI news-media impersonations, and finally resulted in vital court docket selections about how far businesses should go in looking for requested paperwork and the requirements they need to meet in order to withhold paperwork, Marshall stated. The settlement will cowl lawyer’s charges and prices.

“This has proven that there are important, regarding and ongoing points with respect to federal legislation enforcement impersonation of the press in the United States,” Marshall stated. The instances have additionally “proven that the Reporters Committee and The Associated Press had been dedicated to discovering out as a lot as we might about what occurred right here for the general public to know.”

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Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials might not be revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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