Kremlin: Griner Negotiations Should be 'Conducted in Silence'

On Wednesday, Russian officials urged against any public discussions about a potential prisoner swap for US basketball star Brittney Griner. This comes a day after Griner had the appeal of her nine-year sentence on drug possession charges rejected by a Russian court.

Kremlin: Griner Negotiations Should be 'Conducted in Silence'
Image credit: AP [via USA Today]

Facts

  • On Wednesday, Russian officials urged against any public discussions about a potential prisoner swap for US basketball star Brittney Griner. This comes a day after Griner had the appeal of her nine-year sentence on drug possession charges rejected by a Russian court.
  • Griner was convicted on Aug. 4 after police found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at the airport in February, a month that saw tensions rise between the US and Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.
  • She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years, close to the maximum of 10 years she was facing. In its most recent ruling, the court has allowed for Griner’s sentence to be reduced based on the time she has served in pre-trial detention, knocking approximately a year off her sentence.
  • Griner’s best chance at release might be through a deal between the US and Russia. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed in July that a “substantial proposal” had been made to Russia to secure the release of Griner and former US contract Paul Whelan, who was incarcerated on espionage charges.
  • On Tuesday, US National Security adviser Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden admin. continues "to engage with Russia" over the release of Griner and Whelan. On Wednesday, Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, "contacts about possible exchanges can only be conducted in silence under a tight lid on any information."

Sources: FOX News, CBS, USA Today, and Daily Mail.

Narratives

  • Pro-Russia narrative, as provided by RT. Griner violated Russian law, and then she pleaded guilty. She’s just being held to account for her actions, not being “wrongfully detained,” as the US government is falsely claiming. Due process is proceeding despite Washington's statements about prisoner swaps.
  • Anti-Russia narrative, as provided by CNN. Regardless of how Russia wants to classify its holding of Griner, the US has made persistent advances to try to secure her release but there has been no cooperation from the other side. Russia should stop playing games and negotiate for her and Whelan’s release.