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Sports U.S. made 'substantial' offer for Brittney Griner prisoner swap with Russia

03:11  28 july  2022
03:11  28 july  2022 Source:   usatoday.com

Brittney Griner timeline: What has happened since the WNBA star was detained

  Brittney Griner timeline: What has happened since the WNBA star was detained WNBA star Brittney Griner remains wrongfully detained, according to the United States government. Here is a timeline of the major moments in her case.The two-time Olympic gold medal winner and eight-time WNBA All-Star is being "wrongfully detained," according to the United States government by Russia on charges of bringing vape cartridges filled with hashish oil in her luggage while returning to play for her professional team there.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the United States made a "substantial" proposal to Russia to bring home wrongfully detained WNBA star Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, who is also serving a prison sentence in Russia.

Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia since February. © KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV, AFP via Getty Images Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia since February.

CNN reported that the U.S. offered Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer nicknamed "The Merchant of Death," for the prisoner swap. A prisoner swap freed former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed from a Russian penal colony in April.

Blinken added he would engage with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It was the first public acknowledgement of a deal that could involve a prisoner swap or addressing the sanctions placed on the country after it invaded Ukraine.

Trevor Reed Says White House 'Has Ability to' Bring Brittney Griner Home: 'They've Clearly Chosen Not to'

  Trevor Reed Says White House 'Has Ability to' Bring Brittney Griner Home: 'They've Clearly Chosen Not to' "In my opinion, the White House has the ability to get [Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner] out extremely fast, and they clearly have chosen not to do that," Reed told NBC NewsTrevor Reed, a former marine who spent years in Russian detainment before being released back to the United States in April, publicly condemned the White House's efforts to bring Americans Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner home.

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“My hope would be that in speaking to Foreign Minister Lavrov, I can advance the efforts to bring them home,” Blinken said.

Blinken said President Joe Biden has been directly involved in the negotiations and he signed off on the offer to Moscow.

The president “signs off on any proposal that we make, certainly when it comes to Americans who are being arbitrarily detained abroad, including in this specific case,” Blinken said.

He said the U.S. agreement to free American Trevor Reed shows that Biden "is prepared to make tough decisions if it means the safe return of Americans."

TIMELINE: What has happened since Brittney Griner was detained

MORE: Mural features Brittney Griner, wrongfully detained Americans

WNBA's Griner tells drug trial: 'My career is my whole life'

  WNBA's Griner tells drug trial: 'My career is my whole life' KHIMKI, Russia (AP) — American basketball star Brittney Griner testified at her drug possession trial in Russia that an interpreter translated only a fraction of what was being said while she was detained at Moscow's airport in February and that officials told her to sign documents, but “no one explained any of it to me.” The testimony by Griner, came on the same day that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington has offered a deal to Russia aimed at bringing home the WNBA star and another jailed American, Paul Whelan in a sharp reversal of previous policy. Details of the proposal were not announced, though a person familiar with the matter said the U.S.

PRISON LIFE: What is life in Russian prison like for Brittney Griner?

Blinken added: "There is utility in sending clear, direct messages to the Russians on key priorities for us. These include the return of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, and following through on the grain agreement."

Griner appeared in court Wednesday for the sixth time since her trial began July 1. She has been detained on drug charges for carrying vape cartridges containing marijuana while traveling to the country on Feb. 17. Her detention in Russia, regardless of a verdict, has been authorized until Dec. 20. Whelan has been in custody since 2018 and is serving a 16-year sentence on espionage charges the U.S. disputes.

Griner testified for the first time Wednesday, and John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman, signaled it was an appropriate time to share their efforts.

"No decision to talk about these issues are made lightly," Kirby said. "We think through every step so carefully. I can promise you this decision to talk about it was made in the same vein and in the context of what’s going on in both cases."

Paul Whelan's Family Given 'Little Bit of Hope' by Offer of Brittney Griner Prisoner Swap

  Paul Whelan's Family Given 'Little Bit of Hope' by Offer of Brittney Griner Prisoner Swap Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday that a "substantial" deal has been offered to Russia in order to secure the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan home weeks ago." © Provided by People GMA/Twitter David Whelan David said the attention from Griner's case had "absolutely" been helpful in shining a light on his brother's detainment too. "Ms. Griner, her supporters, her advocacy on her own behalf, her supporters' advocacy, has been very gracious in including Paul's case and calling for both Ms. Griner and Paul's freedom," he told GMA Thursday.

The government tried to contact both families in advance of Blinken's news conference, Kirby said. Details remain scarce, he said, because the U.S. doesn't want to negotiate in public but wanted Americans and the world to know it was being addressed.

David Whelan, the brother of Paul Whelan, told USA TODAY: "We're grateful that the Biden Administration is looking for ways to bring Paul home. The public announcement of a concession of any kind seems pretty extraordinary to me. I've not heard of one being made prior to it being accepted. Hopefully Foreign Minister Lavrov, and President Putin, will be open to the offer. It would be great to have Paul home."

Bout was handed a 25-year sentence in 2012 for conspiring to sell weapons to people who planned to kill Americans.

“He’s a bad dude,” Rob Saale, a former hostage negotiator with the FBI, told USA TODAY Sports.

Any deal involving him would involve multiple U.S. prisoners, Saale said. Blinken wouldn't comment on the Russian response to the offer, although CNN reported it was floated last month.

"I'm not going to characterize it," Blinken said. "My interest and my focus is that to the best of my ability, we get the yes.

Brittney Griner's Sentencing Should Come 'Very Soon' as Her Trial in Russia Wraps Up

  Brittney Griner's Sentencing Should Come 'Very Soon' as Her Trial in Russia Wraps Up Griner's defense and the prosecution are expected to deliver closing arguments ThursdayBrittney Griner's lawyer said that the WNBA star will likely be sentenced "very soon" on charges of smuggling drugs into Russia.

"This is something that we are focused on 24/7."

The WNBA and Players' Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Contributing: Lindsay Schnell; Associated Press

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: U.S. made 'substantial' offer for Brittney Griner prisoner swap with Russia

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