U.S. Offers Russian Prisoner In Exchange For Brittney Griner

U.S. Offers Russian Prisoner In Exchange For Brittney Griner

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All hope isn’t lost for detained WNBA star Brittney Griner.

According to CNN, the Biden Administration announced they’ve offered to exchange Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker serving a 25-year prison sentence in America, for the release of the athlete and police officer Paul Whelan.

A senior administration official suggested Russia has not been responsive to the offer. “We start all negotiations to bring home Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained with a bad actor on the other side. We start all of these with somebody who has taken a human being American and treated them as a bargaining chip,” the official said. “So in some ways, it’s not surprising, even if it’s disheartening, when those same actors don’t necessarily respond directly to our offers, don’t engage constructively in negotiations.”

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo

Griner testified in a Russian court on Wednesday (July 27) after pleading guilty to illegal drug charges, less than three weeks ago. Griner was arrested at the Moscow Sheremetyevo airport on Feb. 17 for carrying an illegal substance.

After her detainment, Griner called her lawyer before her phone was confiscated and prevented from speaking with her legal team until the next morning. “At that point it felt like I was being held against my will,” she said in her testimony. “I asked again what’s going on and when can I see my lawyer. I was then told I have to be interrogated.”

Per NBC News, Griner went on to tell the courts that she was cross-examined by the prosecution, which asked her whether she pleaded guilty to drug smuggling. “I do understand charges against me, I do take responsibility for them being in my bag, but I didn’t plan on bringing anything to Russia,” she told the court.

Brittney Griner’s next hearing is scheduled for August 2.

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