There Are ‘No Agreements’ On Prisoner Swap For Griner, Kremlin Says

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Reuters reports that Russia’s announcement, which came Thursday, followed comments made by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who had said Wednesday Washington had made a “serious offer” to swap Griner and fellow American Paul Whelan. 

Russia has said that while negotiations with the United States are ongoing, there is currently no deal to broker a prisoner swap with Brittney Griner and Viktor Bout, a convicted arms dealer currently imprisoned in the U.S., Reuters reports.

Reuters reports that Russia’s announcement, which came Thursday, followed comments made by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who had said Wednesday Washington had made a “serious offer” to swap Bout for Griner and fellow American Paul Whelan. 

A spokesperson for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, said that “so far there are no agreements in this area.”

Griner, a WNBA star for the Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained in Russia on drug charges in February, after authorities allegedly confiscated vaping paraphernalia containing cannabis in her luggage. Griner pleaded guilty to the charges in early July. 

In testimony delivered yesterday in a Russian courtroom, Griner – who has a prescription for cannabis due to chronic pain – claimed that she had been unaware of her rights at the time of her detention.

“My rights were never read to me. No one explained any of it to me,” she said in her testimony. 

While legal in parts of the U.S., cannabis remains illegal in Russia.

In May, after the U.S. reclassified Griner as being “wrongfully detained,” speculation arose that she and Whelan – a former Marine sentenced to 16 years in a Russian prison for espionage, allegations he denies – would be offered in exchange for Bout, who is serving 25 years in a U.S. prison for providing arms to terrorist organizations. 

A third detained American, Trevor Reed, had been exchanged in a prisoner swap with Russia in April. 

Griner’s next hearing is scheduled for August 2. In a statement reported by Reuters, her lawyer has said that “From a legal point of view, an exchange is only possible after a court verdict.” 

 


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