American WNBA star Brittney Griner was found guilty of drug trafficking in Russia and sentenced to nine years in prison last week, but that’s just the beginning of the ordeal that many hope ends with her coming home to the United States.
Monday, Griner and her legal team filed an appeal of that sentence after Russia confirmed that negotiations over a potential prisoner swap between the United States and Russia were underway. The plan would swap Griner and another American prisoner for Russian prisoners currently in American prisons.
While not everyone in America seems sympathetic to Griner’s situation, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department confirmed on Monday that the outcome of the trial does not change their feeling about Griner and the importance of getting her out of Russia.
“No element of this trial changes our judgment that Brittney Griner is being wrongfully detained and should be released immediately,” said State Dept spokesperson Ned Price, via ESPN’s T.J. Quinn. “We are in communication with the Russians on this matter and we encourage them to pursue this constructively.”
State Dept spokes Ned Price: "No element of this trial changes our judgment that Brittney Griner is being wrongfully detained and should be released immediately… we are in communication with the Russians on this matter and we encourage them to pursue this constructively.”
— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) August 15, 2022
Quinn added that Price would not go into detail about the ongoing discussions, though it is presumed that arms dealer Viktor Bout is someone of interest for Russia to get in return.
Experts have long said that Griner’s arrest and trial have been political theater meant to entice the United States into some kind of exchange or deal.