The Biden administration is making its biggest move since Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia.
The Biden administration has offered to exchange Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker serving a 25-year US prison sentence, as part of a potential deal to secure the release of Brittney Griner as we as U.S. citizen Paul Whelan.
“We communicated a substantial offer that we believe could be successful based on a history of conversations with the Russians,” a senior administration official told CNN Wednesday. “We communicated that a number of weeks ago, in June.”
Brittney Griner testified on Wednesday that she believed a translation issue may have clouded her February arrest in Russia and led to her signing documents without being properly told what she was doing.
She was arrested for allegedly bringing in vape cartridges containing oils derived from cannabis through a Moscow airport as she was returning to the country to play for her winter team overseas. Griner pleaded guilty to the charge but maintained she may have packed them inadvertently.
The Olympic gold medalist explained she doesn’t know how the cannabis oils got in her bag but explained she had a doctor’s recommendation for it. The Phoenix Mercury center added Wednesday she was suffering from pain caused by injuries over the course of her career and talked about the use of medical marijuana over painkillers in the U.S.
The U.S. State Department has classified Griner as “wrongfully detained.”