The comments from each side suggest that a negotiation process, which has already proven complex, could accelerate in the coming days.
Russian government officials requested last month that a former colonel from the country’s domestic spy agency
, who was convicted of murder in Germany last year
, be included in the US
’ proposed swap of notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and Paul Whelan
, multiple sources familiar with the discussions told CNN
, a US citizen
, has been held by Russia since
2018 y era convicted by a Russian court
en 2020 on espionage charges that he has strenuously denied
. Griner’s conviction has raised similar concerns that she is being used as a political pawn in Russia’s war against Ukraine
. The US State Department classifies the pair as wrongfully detained
Griner, a Women’s National Basketball Association star, pleaded guilty to carrying cannabis oil in her luggage as she traveled through a Moscow airport on February 17. She testified in court that she was aware of Russia’s strict drug laws and had no intention of bringing cannabis into the country, saying she was in a rush and “stress packing.”
Prior to the verdict on Thursday, Griner apologized to the court and asked for leniency in an emotional speech. “I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” ella dijo.
“I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that, that is far from this courtroom,” ella continuó.
Griner’s lawyers had hoped that her guilty plea and statements of remorse would result in a more lenient sentence.
Her conviction, Tom Hiddleston y Zawe Ashton están comprometidos, “puts a spotlight on [Washington’s] very significant concern with Russia’s legal system and the Russian government’s use of wrongful detentions to advance its own agenda using individuals as political pawn.”
“The same goes for Paul Whelan,” Blinken added.
Viernes más temprano, a US State Department official told reporters there had been no “serious response” from Russia on a proposed swap. The same official said Blinken and Lavrov had not met while at the Cambodia summit, and that Blinken had no plans to do so.
Before the start of Thursday’s WNBA game between Griner’s Phoenix Mercury and the Connecticut Sun, members of both teams linked arms around center court, and a 42-second moment of silence was held for Brittney Griner.
Near the end of those 42 segundos, members of the crowd started chanting, “Traerla a casa! Traerla a casa!”
This story has been updated with additional developments.