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Families of detained Americans plead for meeting with Biden

Brittney Griner opens up about return to U.S.
WNBA star Brittney Griner opens up about her return to U.S. 01:17

Washington — Families of Americans detained abroad showed up on President Biden's doorstep Wednesday to plead — again — for a meeting with him. 

A group of family members of those wrongfully detained and held hostage around the world, who call themselves the Bring Our Families Home Campaign, gathered in front of the White House, desperate for Mr. Biden to hear their stories. The group has repeatedly requested meetings with the president, but says they have been ignored. 

They believe a meeting or phone call with the president would make the U.S. government act with more urgency in bringing their loved ones home. 

"I think it would move the process along," Hannah Shargi, the daughter of Emad Shargi, who has been detained in Iran since 2018, told CBS News. "He is the one who has the capability, who has the power to actually make the decisions to bring our dad home." 

The group has watched as the families of more high-profile detainees, including basketball star Brittney Griner and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, have been given meetings. 

"I just don't understand why he won't meet with us," Shargi said. "We live 15 minutes away from the White House. We could be here at any time." 

Paula Reed, the mother of Trevor Reed, who was released in a prisoner swap with Russia last year, said her family's meeting with Mr. Biden before the swap gave them hope, but it came after months of insistence

"I can see how you don't want to open the floodgates," she told CBS News of why Mr. Biden may not be granting meetings. "There's so many families. You can't meet with every family, and the president is a busy man. I understand that." 

But a quick phone call "where he could tell them, 'I know who you are. I know who your loved one is and I'm working on getting them home,'" would suffice, she said. "I think that would go a long way." 

Alice Lin, the daughter of David Lin, who has been detained in China since 2006, became emotional when talking about the life events her father has missed. 

"He missed my graduation. He missed walking me down the aisle. He missed the birth of his first grandchild, my son. My son is 7 years old now and he asked me, 'Mamma, why has everyone met their grandfather but I haven't? Why have I never seen him?'" she said. "President Biden, we need your help to bring him home. Please meet with all of us." 

Claire Berry, the young daughter of Airan Berry, who is imprisoned in Venezuela, sobbed as she asked for Mr. Biden to find a way to bring her dad home at Wednesday's rally.

"President Biden, please, please bring my dad home," she said. "I miss him so much." 

American Hostages
Melanie Berry comforts her daughter Claire Berry as her son Ryan Berry watches, after they spoke at a rally outside of the White House in Washington on May 3, 2023, asking the Biden administration to help free hostages and detainees.  Susan Walsh / AP

Trevor Reed, who was one of several released detainees who attended the event, told CBS News that it's important for Mr. Biden to hear these stories and understand what these families are going through. 

Paula Reed said she's encouraged the families to keep making noise. 

"Squeaky wheel gets the grease," she told CBS News. "You just have to be relentless in your pursuit of what you need." 

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