Brittney Griner

Imprisoned WNBA star Brittney Griner faces nine years in the Russian maximum-security penal colony for women. This comes after she pled guilty to attempting to bring a small amount of hashish oil onto a flight with her Russian Premier League team.

The Russian government denied Griner’s appeal for freedom in late October. American president Joe Biden, fresh off his political party’s surprising performance in the 2022 midterm elections, renewed his commitment to freeing Griner and former United States Marine Paul Whalen in early November.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was asked Sunday if the Russians are serious in their negotiations for Griner.

“The proof will be in the pudding,” Blinken said in an interview with Face the Nation.  “We have to see if the engagements that we’ve had, the discussions that we have, produced an actual result. That’s the most important thing. But we are not resting on the laurels of having put forward a proposal some months ago. We’ve been actively engaged over these many months to try to move things forward.

“We’ve been engaged repeatedly,” Blinken added. “In any way that we can, to try to advance it and to look to see if there are different permutations that could achieve what we’re trying to achieve, which is to get our people home.”

The Russians only recently admitted to moving Griner to the horrific work camp, despite doing so immediately after denying her appeal. Griner is set to be freed in 2031 barring international intervention.

[Face the Nation; Griner photo from The Arizona Republic, via USA Today Sports]