The US and Russia are ready to continue discussing the exchange of prisoners

Following the nine-year prison sentence for American women’s basketball star Brittney Griner, Russia said on Friday August 5 that it “ready” to discuss a prisoner exchange with the United States. The player, was sentenced by a Russian court in a controversial case of “drug trafficking”finds himself however caught up in the geopolitical crisis between Washington and Moscow, amid the conflict in Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden called Thursday a“unacceptable” the conviction of the 31-year-old double Olympic champion, the United States accusing Moscow of using his case to get concessions from Washington. The American administration has claimed for several days that it has submitted to the Kremlin a proposal to obtain the release of MME Griner, but Russian diplomats reiterated that an exchange could only be discussed once the verdict is passed.

A first conversation

“We are ready to discuss this topic, but only within the framework of the channel [diplomatique] that President Putin and Biden agreed to”, said the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, during a trip to Cambodia. The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, stated that this specific communication channel to negotiate prisoner exchanges has been the subject of an agreement between MM. Biden and Putin during talks in Geneva last year.

Without success, the White House “encouraged” on Thursday Russia to accept it “serious offer” in exchanges to return to MME Healing. The head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, who has spoken to Mr. Lavrov last week about an exchange, declared on Friday that the United States will stop. “continue” talk about it in Russia. He also considered that the conviction of MME Illustrated by Griner “The Russian government’s use of illegitimate detentions to advance its interests by using individuals as political pawns”.

Quit cannabis-based vaping liquid.

Brittney Griner, considered one of the best basketball players in the world, was sentenced Thursday to nine years in prison for drug trafficking in a court in Khimki, near Moscow. This heavy prison sentence produced a wave of anger, especially in the world of sport. He was arrested in February at a Moscow airport with cannabis-based vaping liquid. He admitted to having the substance, even claiming to have brought it to Russia accidentally and used it legally in the United States as a painkiller.

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She came to Russia to play during the American offseason, a common practice for WNBA basketball players, who usually make more money abroad than in the United States. The sportswoman is one of many American citizens who are currently imprisoned in Russia and whose release Washington wants.

Washington said last week it was making an offer “important” and “seriously” to get M’s returnME Griner and Paul Whelan, an American who served 16 years in prison in Russia for “surveillance”.

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According to some American media, it could be a question of exchanging a famous Russian arms dealer imprisoned in the United States, Viktor Bout, against Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. Mr. Bout, arrested in Thailand in 2008 and serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States, was nicknamed the “Merchant of Death”. His extraordinary journey is one of the inspirations for the film Lord of War, where Nicolas Cage plays an arms dealer.

The arms dealer’s wife, Alla Bout, also said Thursday that she hopes for an exchange, declaring her “mercy” to those close to Brittney Griner. “May God ensure that our countries find an agreement”said M.ME Bout the RIA Novosti news agency.

Neither Russia nor the United States have confirmed anything, and Moscow has insisted it wants to keep the negotiations confidential, angered by statements made by American officials. “If the Americans still decide to engage in public diplomacy and make sensational statements (…) it’s their business, and even their problem”said Mr. Lavrov on Friday, estimated that Washington “don’t come” to work “Calm and professional” on many subjects.

The World with AFP

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