The Russian prosecutor’s office sentenced American basketball player Brittney Greiner to nine and a half years in prison after she was arrested at a Moscow airport in February this year in possession of a vaporizer containing cannabis oil on drug-trafficking charges.
Judge Anna Sotnikova said she took into account Gritner’s guilty plea (she said she never “intended to break Russian laws”) and the two-time Olympic basketball champion’s sporting achievements, including time already in prison. .
However, the US immediately responded, with President Joe Biden calling the decision “unacceptable”. “I demand his immediate release from Russia so he can return to his wife, his family and his comrades,” the US president said in a statement, assuring he was “ruthlessly committed” to “exploring all possible avenues” of protection. Griner’s publication.
On Friday, it was the turn of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to guarantee that the US would negotiate a prisoner exchange with Russia, which should include Griner. “Foreign Minister (of Russia, Sergey) Lavrov said this morning at 8[…] Those who are willing to participate in prisoner exchange. We are going to look for it,” Blinken said during a meeting with foreign ministers from Southeast Asian countries in Cambodia.
Blinken accused “Moscow of using illegal arrests to promote its own agenda” and pointed to the use of “individuals as political pawns”.
In turn, in Cambodia, Sergei Lavrov assured that Russia is “ready to discuss the issue, but only within the limits of the (communication) channel established by Presidents (Vladimir) Putin and (Joe) Biden”.
“There is a special channel agreed by the presidents, and despite some public statements, it continues to work”, the Russian foreign minister has already left a warning: “If the Americans decide to resort to diplomacy in public again, that’s up to them. I would say that this is their problem.”
The international press also reported that Griner – as well as former US Marine Paul Whelan – could be exchanged for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is accused of supplying Al Qaeda, the Taliban and various governments and militants in Africa.
On February 17 this year, Brittney Griner, who was part of the Olympic gold-winning teams in Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo, was arrested in Moscow on charges of drug trafficking and possession of cannabinoid oils and vaporizers.
“I made a mistake, but I hope my life doesn’t end here with your decision,” he said after pleading guilty.