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Brittney Griner Prisoner Swap Being Considered by Russian Foreign Minister

Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrovsaid the united states is available to discussions with america abouta potential prisoner swap involving WNBA star Brittney Griner, who’sbeen detained in Russia for 162 days after being arrested at a Moscowairport in February.

Vladimir Isachenkov of the AssociatedPress reported Friday that Lavrov confirmed he received a request tospeak with Secretary of State Antony Blinken amid reports the U.S. wasprepared to provide Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in trade forGriner, who’s on trial for drug charges while negotiations continue, and fellow American Paul Whelan.

“I’ll pay attention to what he’s got tosay,” Lavrov said, though he noted his department hasn’t beeninvolved in prior discussions on this issue.

Griner pleaded guilty to charges linked to bringing vape cartridges containing cannabis oilto Russia in her luggage, but Russian criminal trials proceed even though a plea has been entered, per Isachenkov.

The 31-year-old Texas native saidduring testimony Wednesday she doesn’t understand how the vape cartridgesended up in her luggage and she didn’t purposely bring them toRussia.

“I still hardly understand to the dayhow they finished up in my own bags,” Griner said. “I didn’t have anyintent to utilize or retain in my possession any substance that isprohibited in Russia.”

She noted a female at the airport wasdescribed being an interpreter but only informed her where you can signpaperwork, no one provided a legal explanation of the documents or explained herrights, per Isachenkov.

“I didn’t know just what I wassigning,” Griner said.

The eight-time WNBA All-Star said sheuses cannabis legally in the U.S. on a doctor’s recommendation totreat chronic pain from sports injuries suffered through the years.

CNN’s Kylie Atwood, Evan Perez andJennifer Hansler reported Thursday that President Joe Biden was supporting the program to provide Bout in exchangefor Griner and Whelan, regardless of the Department of Justice being “generally against prisoner trades.”

Blinken said Wednesday the U.S. hadmade a “substantial proposal” to Russia but didn’t confirmdetails before a possible discussion along with his Russian counterpart.

“My hope will be that in speakingto Foreign Minister Lavrov, I could advance the efforts to create themhome,” he said.

Griner was planing a trip to Russia to playfor UMMC Ekaterinburg through the WNBA offseason. Several playerscompete overseas among WNBA seasons for supplemental income.

The 2013 No. 1 overall pick is one ofthe most decorated players of the generation with a variety ofchampionships on her behalf resume: four EuroLeague, three Russian NationalLeague, one WNBA with the Phoenix Mercury and something NCAA at Baylor.

She’s also a two-time WNBA scoringchampion and contains captured the league’s Defensive Player of the entire year Awardtwice.

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