It appears that Russia is willing to play ball in the effort to get Brittney Griner freed, but it will come at a cost.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested in February on drug charges after Russian officers at Moscow airport reportedly found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. Griner has said that she was prescribed the medication for chronic pain, but she was sentenced to nine years in prison, a sentence which was upheld at appeal.
According to recent reports, Russia would be willing to give up the WNBA star for infamous arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was arrested in Thailand in 2008 before being extradited to the United States to serve his 25 year sentence.
“We have yet to arrive at a common denominator, but there is no doubt that Viktor Bout is among those discussed. We are definitely counting on a positive outcome,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told the media.
Ryabkov added that the two countries are “working professionally along the specifically designated channel.”
At one point, Griner’s legal team said that her whereabouts and final destination were unknown, but she was eventually found.
According to CNN, Griner will remain at the IK-2 penal colony after losing her appeal. There, her experience consists of “tedious manual work, poor hygiene and lack of access to medical care.”
In that facility, she will be expected to sew the uniforms for police and guards throughout 16-hour work days.