Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Diplomacy results in U.S.-Russia prisoner swap

Brittney Griner is free. The 10-month saga ended Thursday with President Joe Biden announcing her return to the United States in a prisoner swap with Russia. Griner attempted to enter Russia in February and instead wound up facing drug charges that carried a nine-year prison sentence in a penal colony. The two-time Olympic gold medal winner and eight-time WNBA All-Star was “wrongfully detained,” according to the United States government, by Russia on charges of bringing vape cartridges filled with hashish oil in her luggage while returning to play for her professional team there. (https://sports.yahoo.com/brittney-griner-released-from-russian-prison-10-months-after-arrest-132117554.html) Griner remained in pre-trial detention for more than three months prior to her trial. On Aug. 4, she was officially convicted for drug possession and smuggling. Four months later, she was free. In exchange for her release, the U.S. government will reportedly send convicted international arms dealer Viktor Bout back to Russia, according to CBS News. Bout, nicknamed the “Merchant of Death,” was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted of, among other things, conspiracy to kill Americans. Retired U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is also currently imprisoned in Russia for the past four years on espionage charges, is reportedly not part of the prisoner swap.

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