A deal has been offered by United States President Joe Biden and his administration to bring aspiring to bring back WNBA star Brittney Griner from prison in Russia.
Russian arms trafficker to be offered in exchange for Brittney Griner and former Marine
According to a report from CNN, for the release of WNBA star and ex-Marine Paul Whelan, the Biden administration had offered to exchange convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout who is presently serving a 25-year prison sentence in the U.S. Biden’s decision to support the trade allegedly overrules opposition from the Department of Justice.
“We communicated a substantial offer that we believe could be successful based on a history of conversations with the Russians. We communicated that a number of weeks ago, in June,” a senior administration official told CNN on Wednesday.
“It takes two to tango. 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 further added, “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.”
Back in February, Griner was arrested in Russia over charges of possessing drugs and earlier this month, pleaded guilty while claiming that she unintentionally brought cannabis into the country.
Recently, she penned a letter to Biden asking for her release. “I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home,” the player said in her letter to POTUS. However, Griner is required to undergo trial for the completion of the deal.
The 31-year-old basketball player has been in WNBA since 2013, joining the Phoenix Mercury as a No. 1 overall draft pick. She has been selected to the All-Star team eight times, the All-WNBA team six times, won the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award twice and led the Mercury to a championship in 2014 in her career.
“Once designated as wrongfully detained, it moves to the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs where they can discuss prisoner exchange, I’ve talked with that group several times… but we need to get a deal done,” Cathy Engelbert, the WNBA commissioner said last month.