WNBA star Brittney Griner could be involved in a prisoner swap for a Russian arms dealer. What does the offer from the Biden administration mean?
Brittney Griner remains in the middle of a trial in Russia over drug charges that could land her a prison term of up to 10 years.
Now, the Biden administration has made it clear that they making an effort to end the WNBA star’s wrongful detention.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the U.S. has made a “substantial proposal” involving Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, who has been detained in Russia on espionage charges since 2018.
According to a report from CNN, the offer includes a prisoner swap of Griner and Whelan for convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout.
What does the Brittney Griner prisoner swap offer mean for the WNBA star?
The good news? The Biden administration has taken a bold step to bring Griner home.
Prisoner swaps are not something the U.S. government wants to get in the habit of doing, especially when an arms dealer is involved. Simply making the offer is a significant development.
The bad news? The U.S. made its offer back in June, according to an official quoted by CNN, and the Russians have yet to come around.
“[The ball is in Russia’s] court to be responsive to it,” the official said. “Yet at the same time that does not leave us passive, as we continue to communicate the offer at very senior levels.
“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. 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.”
Moreover, the proposed deal isn’t likely to go through until Griner’s trial is completed. So she’s stuck for now.