Urgent: The Victims of Hurricane Ian Need Your Help!

US, Russia Prepare to Discuss a Prisoner Exchange following U.S. Basketball Star’s Conviction

  Amanda Casanova | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Friday, August 5, 2022
US, Russia Prepare to Discuss a Prisoner Exchange following U.S. Basketball Star’s Conviction

Russian and U.S. officials have said they are preparing to discuss a possible prisoner exchange.

The news comes just a day after U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner was convicted of smuggling drugs into the country. She was sentenced to nine years in prison for carrying less than a gram of cannabis oil through a Moscow airport.

Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said the Kremlin is "ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the channel that has been agreed by the presidents," state news agency RIA Novosti reports.

"There is a specified channel that has been agreed upon by [Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden], and no matter what anyone says publicly, this channel will remain in effect," Lavrov said Friday at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there is a "proposal that Russia should engage with us on. And what Foreign Minister Lavrov said this morning and said publicly is that they are prepared to engage through channels we've established to do just that. And we'll be pursuing that," Blinken told reporters at a press briefing.

According to multiple sources familiar with the discussions, last month, Russian government officials requested that a former colonel from the country's domestic spy agency convicted of murder in Germany be considered a potential swap for Griner and Paul Whelan, CNN reports.

CNN adds that Whelan, a U.S. citizen, has been held by Russia since 2018. He was convicted by a Russian court in 2020 on espionage charges that he has denied.

Griner told the court this week that she was sorry for her actions, according to CBS News.

"I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here," she said.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Mike Mattina/Stringer

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.