Brittney Griner: US makes offer to Russia in bid to secure release of WNBA star and another US prisoner | NBA News

The Biden administration has offered a deal to Russia to bring home basketball star Brittney Griner and another jailed American Paul Whelan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.

In a sharp reversal from previous policy, Mr Blinken also said he expected to speak to his counterpart in the Kremlin for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine.

The statement marked the first time the US government has publicly revealed any concrete steps it has taken to secure the release of WNBA player Griner, who was arrested on drug-related charges at a Moscow airport. in February and testified Wednesday at his trial.

Mr Blinken did not provide details of the proposed deal, which was proposed weeks ago, although it is unclear whether it will be enough for Russia to free the Americans.

But the public acknowledgment of the offer at a time when the United States has otherwise shunned Russia reflects growing administration pressure on Griner and Whelan, a corporate security official jailed for espionage in 2020. and his determination to bring them home.

Mr Blinken said Washington would like a response from Moscow.

Russia has for years expressed interest in the release of Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer once described as a ‘merchant of death’, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2012 on US charges of plotting to illegally sell millions of dollars worth of weapons.

Mr Blinken said he had requested a call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. US officials said the desire for a response to the prisoner offer was the main, but not the only reason the US requested the call with Mr. Lavrov on Wednesday.

Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia since her arrest in February

If the call did go through, it would be the first conversation the pair had had since Feb. 15. About a week before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Mr Blinken said he would also speak to Mr Lavrov about the importance of Russia complying with a UN-brokered deal to release several tonnes of Ukrainian grain from storage and warn him of the dangers of possible Russian attempts to annex parts of eastern and southern Ukraine. .

Griner, detained in Russia since last month, admitted in court this month that she had vaping cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage when she arrived in Moscow in February, but claims that ‘she had no criminal intent and inadvertently packed the cartridges.

At her trial on Wednesday, Griner said she didn’t know how the cannabis oil ended up in her bag, but explained that she got a doctor’s recommendation and packaged it at home. hurry.

She said she was turned away at the airport after inspectors found the cartridges, but an interpreter only translated a fraction of what was said during her interrogation and officials asked her to sign documents without providing an explanation. Griner faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of transporting drugs.

Sky Sports

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