Russia Is Ready To Discuss Prisoner Swap w/ US Following Brittney Griner Conviction
Just one day after basketball star Brittney Griner, 31, was convicted of drug smuggling and sentenced to nine years in prison for carrying less than a gram of cannabis oil through a Moscow airport, the U.S. and Russia have indicated they are ready to move forward with a prisoner swap.
“ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the channel that has been agreed by the presidents.”
“There is a specified channel that has been agreed upon by [Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden], and no matter what anyone says publicly, this channel will remain in effect.”
“We put forward, as you know, a substantial proposal that Russia should engage with us on. And what Foreign Minister Lavrov said this morning and said publicly is that they are prepared to engage through channels we’ve established to do just that. And we’ll be pursuing that.”
As previously reported, back in February, Phoenix Mercury player, Brittney Griner was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Lobnya, Moscow Oblast for illegally carrying vaporizer cartridges, containing hash oil, in her luggage. Despite Russia’s viewpoints on her case, in her trial, Griner stands by the fact that she had no intention to break the law, and she’s still unclear on how they ended up in her bag. According to the 31-year-old, the marijuana substances were only used to treat a past knee injury that she endured in her basketball career.
Prior to her sentencing on Thursday, August 4, the two-time Olympic gold medalist delivered an apology for the accused crime, also stating that it was a mistake on her behalf:
“I made an honest mistake, and I hope in your ruling it does not end my life. I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans, and the city of [Yekaterinburg] for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them. I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home.”
Along with drug possession, the judge held Griner responsible for drug smuggling with criminal intent and slapped her with a $16,000 fine in U.S. dollars. She received a guilty verdict on Thursday (Aug. 4) and is facing nine years in a Russian prison.
The recent comments from both the U.S. and Russia suggests that a negotiation process could occur in the upcoming days.
As previously reported, President Joe Biden offered to exchange convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout as part of a potential deal to release Brittney Griner from the country’s custody. Although the Department of Justice expressed its lack of support for inmate trades, Biden’s administration remains hopeful to bring justice to the “wrongfully detained” Brittney Griner.
After her sentencing, Biden released a statement saying he will continue to work on Brittney Griner’s release.
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