Brittney Griner Could Be Coming Home Soon
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Brittney Griner Could Be Coming Home Soon

In what might be the most promising development yet, word is that the Biden administration may have put "a substantial offer" on the table in an effort to extradite WNBA player Brittany Griner back to the US.

According to CNN, the president has apparently approved a proposal for an exchange that was put on his desk in June that would see the release of Griner and former US marine, Paul Whelan, in exchange for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout who is currently serving a 25-year sentence in a US prison. In a press conference, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that diplomats have put the proposal forth before Russian officials and expects a call from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov within the week.

"We start all negotiations to bring home Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained with a bad actor on the other side. We start all of these with somebody who has taken a human being American and treated them as a bargaining chip," a senior State department official told CNN. "So in some ways, it's not surprising, even if it's disheartening, when those same actors don't necessarily respond directly to our offers, don't engage constructively in negotiations."

Earlier this month, Griner plead guilty to a drug charge stemming from an arrest made in February where Russian authorities discovered vape cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage while attempting to pass through Moscow airport. In her statement to the court, the basketball star stressed that she did not intend to break the law and had mistakenly packed the cartridges in a rush in the hopes that the judge would grant some leniency. Griner could potentially face up to 10 years in prison.

Having spent almost five months now locked up in Russia, Griner previously penned an open letter to Biden asking him to intervene, writing "I’m terrified I might be here forever." Historically, the US Department of Justice has shot down prisoner exchanges but attitudes in the Biden administration have started to change. Back in April, American authorities were able to safely negotiate the release of former Marine Trevor Reed, who had served three years in a Russian penal colony for assaulting police officers in Moscow, for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko who was serving a 20-year sentence for drug smuggling.

Photo via Getty/ Pavel Pavlov/ Anadolu Agency

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