Last month, President Biden met with the families of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, who are being held in Russia under what the administration has called “intolerable circumstances.”
The President wanted to assure them that they are doing everything they can to get them freed. Griner was convicted on drug charges stemming from an incident in February and sentenced to nine years in prison.
However, the White House has made little progress in its negotiations regarding a prisoner swap.
According to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the United States sent a “serious” proposal to Russia back in July, yet, none of the officials have responded back to it or gave a counteroffer.
“We want Russia to take this offer that we have put on the table—a substantial offer as you’ve heard us say many times—seriously,” Jean-Pierre said, via Newsweek. “Or they can make a serious counteroffer, but they need to make a serious counteroffer.”
Griner has nine years, while Whelan was convicted of espionage by a Russian court in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years behind bars.
The Biden administration considers the pair to be wrongfully detained, and a potential prisoner swap has been rumored to include Viktor Bout, a notorious Russian arms dealer who was sentenced to 25 years in 2011.
It’s impossible to get a deal done if one side is not cooperating.
Griner, 31, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and plays for the Phoenix Mercury. Since 2014, she has also played for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg team during the WNBA offseason.