The White House is “disturbed” by reports about imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny suffering in prison and wants him released immediately, Biden spokesperson Jen Psaki said Wednesday.
Ms. Psaki, President Biden’s press secretary, was asked during a briefing for the White House’s reaction to Amnesty International raising fresh concerns about Mr. Navalany’s incarceration in Russia.
“We are disturbed by reports that Mr. Navalny‘s health is worsening, that he is on a hunger strike to demand access to outside medical care,” Ms. Psaki told reporters during the press briefing.
“We urge Russian authorities to take all necessary actions to ensure his safety and health. So long as he is in prison, the Russian government is responsible for his health and wellbeing,” she said.
Ms. Psaki added the White House would monitor the situation closely and reiterated the Biden administration believes that Mr. Navalany’s incarceration is “politically motivated and a gross injustice.”
Mr. Navalny, 44, a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was arrested in Moscow in January upon returning from Germany where he had spent months recovering after being poisoned last year.
He was later sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for a parole violation and accordingly sent to a penal colony, where he began a hunger strike last week due to allegedly being denied medical treatment.
Vadim Kobzev, a lawyer for the Russian opposition leader, told Russian media on Wednesday that Mr. Nvalany has been diagnosed with two vertebral hernias and a protrusion of an intervertebral disc.
“A very disturbing factor is that the disease is clearly progressing in terms of loss of sensitivity in the legs, palms and hands,” Mr. Kobzev wrote in Russian on Twitter.
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