Russia said on Friday it was “ready to discuss” prisoner exchanges with Washington at the presidential level.American basketball star Britney Griner.
Despite heightened tensions between Russia and the United States since the start ofthe former Cold War rival appeared to be approaching a new prisoner exchange.
The White House has urged Russia to accept offers to release Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan..
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow was ready to discuss the issue.
“We are ready to discuss this issue, but only within the framework of the (communication) channels established by Putin and Biden,” Lavrov said at a press conference during his visit to Cambodia.
“There is a special channel established by the president, and despite certain public declarations, it still works,” he added.
Secretary of State Anthony BrinkenLast Friday, Washington said it would “pursue” talks with Russia.
He also said Griner’s conviction puts a spotlight on “the Russian government’s use of individuals as political pawns and unjust detention to advance its own agenda.” rice field.
WNBA player Griner was sentenced Thursday to nine years in a Russian penal colony and ordered to pay a fine of one million rubles ($16,590) for drug possession and smuggling.
The two-time Olympic basketball gold medalist and women’s NBA champion was arrested at a Moscow airport in February after she was found carrying e-cigarette cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. detained.
The Phoenix Mercury player was in Russia during the US off-season to play club basketball at UMMC Yekaterinburg.
Greinerbut she had no intention of breaking the law or using substances banned in Russia.
In his final statement before sentencing, Griner said, “I want the court to understand that it was an honest mistake I made while rushing under stress, trying to recover post-corona and trying to get back to the team.” said.
Griner had testified that he had permission from doctors in the United States to use medicinal cannabis for pain relief from a number of injuries and had never failed a drug test.
Medical marijuana use is not allowed in Russia.
Griner’s legal team said it plans to appeal the “unjust” ruling.
President Biden called Griner’s conviction “unacceptable” and said Washington would “work tirelessly” to secure her release.
Blinken said Washington had submitted a “substantial proposal” for the exchange of Griner and Whelan.
The most high-profile Russian prisoner in the United States isKnown as the “Merchant of Death”, the 55-year-old arms dealer is serving a 25-year sentence.
There is no official confirmation that Washington has offered his replacement.
Bout’s wife, Ara, expressed her condolences to the Griner family on Friday and hopes her husband and the US athletes can return home.
“Pity has no citizenship or nationality, it is a universal human feeling,” she told Russian news agency RIA Novosti, expressing hope that Russia and the United States could “reach an agreement.”
Moscow and Washington have already conducted one prisoner exchange since Moscow’s offensive against Ukraine began.
Washington, AprilFor the convicted drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko.
andIn a delivery to the White House last month, Griner wrote how terrified the WNBA player could be imprisoned “forever” in Russia.
Griner’s wife Sherrell told CBS Morning that she could sense the horror Griner was going through when she read the letter.
“She’s probably the strongest person I know, so I don’t take words like that lightly. It means she’s really afraid that we might never see her again.” You see, I share the same sentiment,” says Sherrell Griner.
Russia ‘Ready to Discuss’ Prisoner Swap Now Britney Griner Convicted
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