The Brittney Griner case could take a major turn in the coming days. On Thursday, Russia’s foreign ministry said it was in “silent diplomacy” with the United States regarding a possible prisoner swap that would include the WNBA star. The information comes from the agency Portal.
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1 of 2 Brittney Griner during her trial in Moscow — Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images
Brittney Griner during her trial in Moscow — Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images
Griner, a twotime Olympic champion, was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia for illegal drug possession. US President Joe Biden called the conviction “unacceptable”.
“Quiet diplomacy is underway and should bear fruit if Washington follows suit and doesn’t fall victim to media frenzy to score ahead of an election,” said Ivan Nechayev, a spokesman for Russia’s foreign ministry.
According to Portal, Washington has proposed swapping Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner. Former US Marine Paul Whelan, who is imprisoned in Russia, is said to be involved in the prisoner exchange.
2 of 2 Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia since the beginning of the year — Photo: Pavel Pavlov/Anadolu Agency
Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia since the beginning of the year — Photo: Pavel Pavlov/Anadolu Agency
Whelan, who holds American, British, Canadian and Irish passports, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020 for espionage. He denied the allegation. Griner, who was prescribed medicinal cannabis in the United States to relieve pain from chronic injuries, was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on February 17 with vape cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage.
At the time, the player pleaded guilty to the charges, saying she made an “honest mistake” by accidentally packing her vape cartridges while rushing to catch her flight to Russia.