Brittney Griner was sentenced to 9 years in a Russian prison last week for having less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage while at the airport.
While that is horrible, and she shouldn’t still be in jail, there is reportedly a bright side to this. Legal experts have stated that the sentencing was just a formality, and Russia wasn’t willing to negotiate a prisoner swap until she was sentenced.
The US had already offered a prisoner swap for Griner, and now that she has officially been sentenced, the talks can now really begin, and the US is reportedly willing to do a 2-for-2 prisoner swap, according to ex-US ambassador Bill Richardson via ABC News.
Basketball star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan should hopefully be released from Russia as part of a “two-for-two” prisoner swap, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson said Sunday.
“My view is optimistic, I think she’s gonna be free. There’s gonna be a prisoner swap — I think it’s gonna be two-for-two. Can’t forget about Paul Whelan,” Richardson, who is an outside adviser involved in Griner’s case, said in an exclusive interview with ABC “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos.
Griner has been detained since February and was sentenced last week to nine years in prison after she was found guilty of drug charges in a Moscow-area court; she has said she accidentally traveled with vape cartridges containing hashish oil.
Whelan, who worked in corporate security after the Marines, was convicted of espionage — which he and the U.S. deny.
Late last month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed the administration had made a “substantial proposal” to release Griner and Whelan, which sources told ABC News included freeing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the U.S.
Richardson said Sunday that he didn’t fully agree with the Biden administration’s messaging strategy. “I wouldn’t have gone public as much as they did,” he said.
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