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#pounditSunday, September 25, 2022

Brittney Griner offered in prisoner exchange for Russian arms dealer

Brittney Griner smiles

Mar 12, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner in attendance of the Phoenix Suns game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The United States confirmed Wednesday that it has offered a deal to Russia in an effort to bring Brittney Griner back to the country.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed Wednesday that the Biden administration had made a “substantial proposal” several weeks ago to facilitate the release of Griner and another American, Paul Whelan, who is also detained in Russia, via ESPN. Reportedly, the U.S. offered to trade convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to secure Griner’s release.

There was no indication that the Russian government had responded to the offer. Blinken added that he plans to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about Griner as well.

The government has been publicly cautious in dealing with Griner’s case during her ongoing trial in Russia. There was one suggestion in May that it was moving toward a potential outcome like this, but it is the first we have heard about an active prisoner exchange effort.

Griner was taken into custody on Feb. 17 after authorities allegedly found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. She is said to be facing up to 10 years in prison.

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