Brittney Griner Prisoner Swap Timeline Update Released: Report

by Nick Geddes

The trial of Brittney Griner came to an end Thursday, with the WNBA star sentenced to nine years in prison and fined $16,500. Griner, 31, was found guilty on charges of drug possession and smuggling. She was detained on Feb. 17 for being in possession of vape cartridges containing hashish oil at a Russian airport.

The U.S. is ramping up its efforts to bring Griner home, and it could be done via a prisoner swap. Per the Daily Mail, a “desperate” President Joe Biden is looking to swap the “Merchant of Death” arms dealer in exchange for Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan within the coming weeks. The scenario had been merely speculation, but now appears to be well on the table.

The “Merchant of Death” is Viktor Bout, a Russian who was arrested in 2008 in Thailand at the request of the U.S. authorities. Bout was in prison for four years before being sentenced for 25 years in 2012. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on July 27 he would participate in a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about the potential swap.

Two days later, Lavrov revealed that zero discussions had taken place in his office. Lavrov, however, said he would entertain what Blinken had to say. Bout must serve 85% of his total term under federal prison guidelines.

“We put a substantial offer on the table weeks ago to facilitate their release,” Blinken said in a statement. “Our governments have communicated repeatedly and directly on that proposal. And I’ll use the conversation to follow up personally, and I hope move us toward a resolution.”

Joe Biden Weighs in on Brittney Griner

Biden, who has called on Russia to release Griner, reiterated after her sentencing Thursday that she is being wrongfully detained.

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” the statement reads. “It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.  My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”