One day after basketball star Brittney Griner was convicted of drug smuggling and sentenced to nine years in prison for carrying less than a gram of cannabis oil through a Moscow airport, the United States and Russia have indicated they are ready to hold talks over a prisoner swap for both Griner and fellow imprisoned American Paul Whelan. Held by Russia since 2018 and convicted by a Russian court in 2020 on espionage charges, Whelan has strenuously denied all accusations against him.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, told reporters in Cambodia that 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 reported. “There is a specified channel that has been agreed upon by [Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden], and no matter what anyone says publicly, this channel will remain in effect,” Lavrov reportedly said Friday at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.
If you think Russia sentencing Brittney Griner to prison for cannabis is wild, wait until you hear about the U.S. prison system
— Dan Price (@DanPriceSeattle) August 4, 2022
— ABC News (@ABC) August 5, 2022