Is there new hope for Brittney Griner?
It seems that Russia’s hard-line obsession with punishing drug criminals has its limits, after all. On Wednesday morning, Russia freed a US citizen and former Marine, Trevor Reed, as part of a prisoner exchange. In July 2020, Reed was sentenced to nearly 9 years in prison after an altercation with Russian police officers.
While Brittney Griner missed the news of a prisoner exchange It sounds disappointing to her supporters, but it’s not all bad. It offers a glimmer of hope. The federal government’s financial sanctions on the Russian economy and the previous withdrawal of American companies from the country show that the diplomatic window has closed with Griner on the other side. Reed’s release suggests that Russia has yet to take some action in favor.
Russia did not give up Reed as an act of kindness. In exchange for Reed, the US traded Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was convicted of smuggling a large batch of cocaine in 2011 and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
These types of exchanges were often made during the Cold War, but for the transaction to take place at a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the Western world, it could signal Griner’s family – and lawyers – to fully grasp- court press with the Biden administration to secure her return.
Like Griner, the high identity of Reed, a former Marine, has made him a political prisoner since his arrest in 2018. Griner’s identity in the public eye is that of a professional athlete. Lesbian career, the towering black American made her an easy target for Moscow. Two years agoVladimir Zherebenkov, 50-year-old navy lawyer Paul Whelan, has identified at least two prisoners the Russian government wants to exchange. One was Yaroshenko, who was exchanged for Reed, and the other was Viktor Bout. Bout was the inspiration for Nicholas Cage’s gun runner character in Lord of War.
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In the end, Russia deported a valuable prisoner from the United States, but the cost of trading several Russians convicted of nonviolence worth more than property in exchange for political prisoners was minimal. . The Biden administration should make Bout and any other Russians available to Griner and Whelan free. Our prisons are overflowing anyway.
Russia’s willingness to approach a drug smuggler is a positive for Griner, who is currently facing drug-related charges. The charge she is charged with – carrying a marijuana vape pen on a flight – is much lighter than the charge that led to the lengthy sentences for Whelan and Reed.
Griner is facing a May 18 court date, and the US State Department has advised the WNBA and Griner’s family to continue negotiations over the possibility of his release. silent in the hope that the Kremlin doesn’t cool the process down in a way that shows political prominence. When the governments of the United States and Russia were willing to do the swap, they showed the ability to expedite the exchange. It took two years to make the Reed-Yaroshenko exchange, but Russia has been signaling its demands since the Trump administration. Where there is a will, there is a way. The road to protecting Griner’s freedom will not be straightforward, but the eagerness of a deal to be done offers a glimmer of hope.