A prisoner exchange could finally free Brittney Griner

(AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

WNBA star Brittney Griner has been held by Russia for nearly 100 days. She was arrested back in February when attempting to leave the country. Accordiing to Russia, “cannabis oil” was found in a vape cartridge in her luggage.


Griner is now facing up to 10 years in prison in Russia. Just over a week ago her detention was extended another month which means her trial could happen in June. Meanwhile the State Department is treating this as a wrongful arrest.

Earlier this month, the U.S. government declared Griner was “wrongfully detained” — a move that moves responsibility for her case from consular affairs to a special envoy for hostage affairs.

A State Department official said the department did not have a comment on Friday’s development, but said, “As we have stated repeatedly, the Russian system wrongfully detained Ms. Griner.”

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke to Griner’s wife a week ago and assured her that bringing Brittney home was a top priority:

According to a senior State Department official, the top US diplomat told Cherelle Griner that her wife’s release is a top priority for the department and has his full attention. Blinken said the State Department is working on the case day and night, and that Cherelle Griner should not to hesitate to reach out if there’s anything she is not getting…

The family, in a statement obtained by CNN from Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said they are “grateful for the time Secretary Blinken took on his recent call with Cherelle and look forward to her face-to-face meeting with the President.”


Today, ABC News aired an interview with Cherelle Griner in which she asked President Biden to step up his efforts.

“There is one person that can go get her, and that’s our president,” Griner told Angela Rye in an interview that is airing Wednesday on ESPN. “He has that power. You know, I’m just like, ‘Why are we not using it? Like, urgently, use it.’ We’re expecting him to use his power to get it done.”…

Cherelle Griner, who earlier this month graduated from the North Carolina Central University School of Law, said she has spoken with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken as well as NBA commissioner Adam Silver and WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert. She also credited the Mercury for their support. But she is very concerned for Brittney’s well-being.

“I’m in a position of complete vulnerability right now. I have to trust people that I didn’t even know until Feb. 17,” Cherelle Griner said.

Last month the Biden administration successfully negotiated the release of former Marine Trevor Reed after three years in Russia. Former UN ambassador Bill Richardson helped negotiate Reed’s release and is now working on Griner’s case. One option which US officials offered this week is a prisoner swap.

Possible negotiation talks are underway regarding a prisoner exchange between Brittney Griner and Russian convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, according to the Russian news agency TASS.

“Currently, talks are underway on exchanging Bout for Griner,” TASS reported, referencing information provided by “a source in the Public Monitoring Commission.”…

Bout, who was given the moniker of “Merchant of Death,” was issued a 25-year sentence in federal prison by a New York federal court in 2011 for plotting to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a Marxist-Leninist guerrilla group.


It’s obviously absurd that we have to offer to give up an arms dealer known as the “merchant of death” in exchange for a basketball star who had cannabis oil in her luggage. One of these things is clearly not like the other. But at this point, there’s no point in asking Russia to be reasonable. If they were reasonable Griner wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place.

Here’s the interview with Griner’s wife Cherelle which aired this morning.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Videos