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Russia Confirms Brittney Griner Prisoner Exchange Talks Are Happening

In the week since WNBA star Brittney Griner was found guilty on drug charges and sentenced to nine years in prison, it’s been theorized by journalists and pundits that prisoner exchange talks would get more serious now that Russia’s legal process has played out. It appears those opinions are true.

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The Russian government is officially stating that discussions for a potential prisoner swap are taking place, according to The Washington Post. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin first agreed to speak when they met in Geneva in April.

Ivan Nechayev, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, stated that “instructions were sent to authorized entities to carry out negotiations.” They are being carried out by officials who are qualified.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who has been held since 2018 on suspicion of spying charges, were offered in exchange for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer now serving a 25-year sentence in federal prison, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated.

It was starting to seem like nobody was genuinely worried about getting Brittney home as two governments were publicly saber-rattling and posturing. Confirmation of conversations indicates that at least some progress has been made.

Bill Richardson, a former UN ambassador, recently told George Stephanopoulos on This Week that he is “optimistic” about the prospect of a two-for-two bargain that would return Griner and Whelan home.

Richardson declared, “I think she’s going to be set free. “I believe she has a strong legal team and the appropriate contrition plan. But there will be a prisoner exchange. Paul Whelan will be involved in both, in my opinion. We must not ignore him. He is also an American Marine who was illegally detained.

It’s crucial to remember that if a transaction does occur, we won’t find out about it until the Phoenix Mercury center is returning home or has arrived in the country. Even though these conversations have become unusually public, we rarely learn when an agreement has actually been reached.