US offers Russia prisoner swap involving WNBA star Brittney Griner
The US government has proposed to the Kremlin a prisoner exchange to free American basketball star Brittney Griner and former military man Paul Whelan, both detained in Russia. The proposal was unveiled on Wednesday (27) by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who announced that he should have, in the coming days, the first conversation with Russian Chancellor Sergei Lavrov since the beginning of the Ukrainian War.
To make the negotiation possible, the US government was willing to hand over Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer arrested on American soil. Known as the “Merchant of Death”, he was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand, in a US Drug Enforcement Operation in 2008 and extradited to New York in 2010.
According to The New York Times, the proposal would be endorsed by President Joe Biden, who, amid a popularity crisis that threatens the Democratic Party’s slight majority in the Legislature, would be under increasing political pressure to free Americans.
“Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner were wrongfully detained and should be allowed to return home,” Blinken said. The secretary of state did not give details about the proposal, according to him, not to jeopardize the negotiations – he limited himself to saying that the offer is “substantial” and that the White House is optimistic about the agreement being concluded.
Read more in Folha de S. Paulo
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