Brittney Griner’s sentence puts the spotlight back on strained US-Russia relations

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Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving requested the query that so many contemplated on Thursday morning: What is occurring with Brittney Griner?

On Thursday, a Russian court docket discovered the WNBA star responsible of drug expenses, months later she was arrested at a Moscow airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil present in her belongings. Griner pleaded responsible to the expenses final month however has maintained that it was not her intention to convey an unlawful substance into the nation.

The US authorities has maintained that Griner was “wrongfully detained” and has offered the Kremlin with a “substantial proposal” to convey her and American Paul Whelan back dwelling.

WNBA participant Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with unlawful possession of hashish, sits inside a defendants’ cage after the court docket’s verdict throughout a listening to in Khimki, exterior Moscow, on Aug. 4, 2022.
(Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/AFP by way of Getty Images)

On the authorized aspect, her attorneys have mentioned they might enchantment the verdict they referred to as “completely unreasonable.”


But, as tensions between the US and Russia proceed to be strained amid battle in Ukraine, the timeline and chance of Griner’s launch stay unknown.

“I believe we now have to acknowledge {that a} international jurisdiction has put its processes to work in managing an admitted responsible defendant,” Hugh Dugan, an American tutorial and longtime diplomat who served as the particular presidential envoy for hostage affairs below the Trump administration, instructed Fox News Digital of the complexities of brokering a deal.

“To proceed to say wrongful detention would require the White House to reveal how her nationality got here to play in the final result of this case and whether or not there are different pressures being positioned on the White House by Russia and along side international coverage issues.”

US basketball player Brittney Griner stands in a defendants' cage before a court hearing during her trial on charges of drug smuggling in Khimki, outside Moscow, on Aug.  2, 2022.

US basketball participant Brittney Griner stands in a defendants’ cage earlier than a court docket listening to throughout her trial on expenses of drug smuggling in Khimki, exterior Moscow, on Aug. 2, 2022.
(Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/AFP by way of Getty Images)

Dugan continued: “Wrongful detention must entail some substantial element of prejudice in direction of the defendant primarily based on nationality, notably, on this case, American nationality. The White House would want to reveal that, actually, there was leverage being exerted by Russia on this case due strictly to the defendant’s international nationality and that there was an effort to safe different nationwide pursuits by Russia by way of this case.”

President Biden issued a press release Thursday calling the trial and subsequent sentence “unacceptable.”


“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner acquired a jail sentence that’s yet one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” Biden mentioned in a press release.

“It’s unacceptable, and I name on Russia to launch her instantly so she might be along with her spouse, family members, mates, and teammates. My administration will proceed to work tirelessly and pursue each doable avenue to convey Brittney and Paul Whelan dwelling safely as as quickly as doable.”

But Dugan warned that such rhetoric might complicate negotiations.

President Biden is seen at Camp David in Maryland during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb.  12, 2022.

President Biden is seen at Camp David in Maryland throughout a telephone name with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 12, 2022.
(White House)

“The White House continues its robust concern and curiosity in a speedy decision, [but] as to how Russia will take to the White House’s overtures is one other matter, and I imagine the president’s persevering with reference to wrongful detention at this level can solely make Russia bristle.”

Rebekah Koffler, a Russian-born former US intelligence officer and knowledgeable on Russia and Vladimir Putin, echoed that sentiment, saying the course of will doubtless be drawn out over political variations.


“Brittney Griner’s enchantment, which her Russian legal professionals mentioned they are going to pursue, will virtually actually be denied. It is just after the professional forma authorized course of is accomplished that the actual deal might be mentioned between Moscow and Washington,” she mentioned Thursday.

“Since Moscow and Washington’s positions are presently irreconcilable — the former views Ms. Griner as a legal who deserves virtually most sentence for drug smuggling and the latter believes she is ‘wrongfully detained’ by Russia — this guarantees to be a protracted, protracted case wherein Vladimir Putin’s regime holds all the playing cards and the Biden administration, virtually none.”

A Russian court found WNBA star Brittney Griner guilty of smuggling and storing narcotics after prosecutors requested a sentence of nine and a half years in jail for the athlete.

A Russian court docket discovered WNBA star Brittney Griner responsible of smuggling and storing narcotics after prosecutors requested a sentence of 9 and a half years in jail for the athlete.
(Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/AFP by way of Getty Images)

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed final week that the Biden administration supplied a “substantial proposal” for the return of the basketball participant and fellow American Paul Whelan.

A prisoner swap has not been confirmed by the White House, however stories have instructed that Viktor Bout, a Russian arms vendor generally known as the “Merchant of Death,” might be a key element of that deal.


Bout is serving a 25-year sentence in the US after being convicted of conspiracy to kill US residents and offering help to a terrorist group, prompting considerations over the proportionality of their crimes because it pertains to a “truthful” deal, however as Dugan explains , that concern is seemingly much less vital as the scenario evolves.

Alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout walks past temporary cells ahead of a hearing at the Criminal Court in Bangkok, Thailand, on Aug.  20, 2010.

Alleged Russian arms vendor Viktor Bout walks previous momentary cells forward of a listening to at the Criminal Court in Bangkok, Thailand, on Aug. 20, 2010.
(Christophe Archambault/AFP by way of Getty Images)

“The truth is that these people turn into commoditized by both sides and that the phrases of restoration are not often if ever associated to the gravity of the scenario that introduced them into captivity,” he mentioned.

“An analogy I’ve thought of is in case you have been taking part in chess with me and my items have been fabricated from strong gold and yours have been fabricated from plastic, it would not decide the final result of the recreation. The identical dynamic is at work by way of who performs, how, what and when. The intrinsic worth of the items is anecdotal or incidental and never going to offer one aspect a handicap in any approach.”

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