WNBA Star Brittney Griner’s time being held in Russia over the possession of illegal marijuana has made headlines for months after it became clear she was the Kremlin’s favorite political pawn. On Thursday we learned about Griner’s fate as well as what Biden is ready to do about it.
According to DailyMail.com
Brittney Griner is expected to be swapped by America for the ‘Merchant of Death’ arms dealer within weeks as Joe Biden scrambles to undo her nine-year prison sentence for smuggling cannabis into the country, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal.
Griner was today sentenced to nine years in prison for smuggling a weed pen into Moscow in February. The 31-year-old WNBA star claimed in court it was an ‘honest mistake’ and that she didn’t mean to bring the drugs in.
For weeks, speculation has run rampant that the White House was preparing to negotiate a swap of Griner and Paul Whelan, another US citizen being held in Russian prison, in exchange for Viktor Bout, an arms dealer who was arrested in 2008 in Thailand at the request of the US authorities.
The Russians refused to agree on a deal before Griner’s sentence, citing the need for judicial process.
Now, Biden – amid a swell of public pressure from Griner’s fans in the world of sport and Hollywood – is rushing to have her released.
A source close to the ongoing negotiations told DailyMail.com that a deal to swap Griner with Bout is now more likely than ever, and could be completed within a month if there are no delays to the process.
‘The US positioned has weakened now. They showed their hand and now their bargaining position has weakened,’ the source said.
Here is Griner’s final plea on Thursday before her sentencing.
Griner’s attorneys have ten days to file an appeal. After that, the matter would only take a few more weeks, they said. But the Russians may not be as quick to agree to it as Biden hopes.
It is now uncertain that the deal would include Paul Whelan, an American who has been locked up on espionage charges since 2018.
The US had been pushing for a deal that would include both Griner and Whelan. Now that she has been sentenced in the Russian court of law, their leverage is weaker.
‘The Russians might think Whelan is too much now… after today, his place in the deal is not so certain,’ the source said.
Russia is planning to use Griner and Whelan’s combined sentences to push for even more gains on their side as part of the prisoner swap. Whether they will want other dangerous spies involved in the trade is still unclear. Do you think Biden should trade the “Merchant of Death” for a former Marine and a basketball player?