President Joe Biden has released a statement regarding the verdict and sentencing of U.S. citizen Brittney Griner. The WNBA star was found guilty in a Russian court on drug-related charges on Thursday.
“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 read. “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.”
Griner will serve a nine-year prison sentence because of the verdict. Russian prosecutors asked for a 9 1/2-year sentence. She could’ve faced up to 10 years.
Russian authorities arrested Griner back in February after locating vape cartridges containing hashish oil at a Moscow airport. She has been detained in the country since.
The United State has offered a prisoner swap, but Russia has not yet made a decision.
Will Russa Agree to Prisoner Exchange?
Over the past few weeks, the United States has been in discussions with Russia about a prisoner exchange. America asked Russia to release Brittney Griner and U.S. Marine Paul Whelan in exchange for the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement about the “substantial offer.” As of Griner’s verdict and sentencing, there was no agreement in place.
“We put a substantial offer on the table weeks ago to facilitate their release,” Blinken said. “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.”
While no deal currently exists between the two countries, Joe Biden’s statement on Thursday indicates the United States will continue to make every effort to bring both Griner and Whelan home.