(FiveNation.com)- President Joe Biden promised to repatriate imprisoned American basketball player Brittney Griner from Russia, but Moscow’s authorities have been reticent to consider prisoner swaps.
The Biden administration has put forth many proposals over the past few months to bring Griner and Marine veteran Paul Whelan, who is also imprisoned in Russia, home, according to U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who made the statement during a White House press briefing on Thursday.
According to Sullivan, the Russians have not yet demonstrated a willingness to participate in that back-and-forth that generates a result.
After the midterm elections, Biden expressed hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be more willing to talk about the instances of Griner and Whelan.
At a news conference, Biden stated that he expects that now that the election is over, Mr. Putin will be able to speak with and be willing to talk more seriously about a prisoner exchange.
Griner, the WNBA All-Star and two-time U.S. champion Olympic gold winner, was found guilty on charges of transporting and smuggling cannabis goods and given a nine-year sentence on August 4. Griner was detained on February 17 when officials discovered four vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. She was going back to play for a Russian team in the off-season of the WNBA. Griner acknowledged having the cartridges in her suitcase but claimed she packed them accidentally and wasn’t trying to do anything wrong.
On Wednesday, Griner’s legal team disclosed that she was moved to a prison colony on November 4. However, her lawyers claimed they were unaware of her location or future plans. According to a 2021 U.S. report, Griner might be dealing with “severe” and perhaps “life-threatening” circumstances.
Due to espionage-related allegations, Whelan is currently incarcerated for 16 years. Both are wrongfully held in the eyes of the United States.
According to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the administration presented a significant prisoner swap proposal to Russia two months ago. He omitted details, but other news sources claimed the US had proposed the release of jailed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.