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Reports: Russia wants convicted murderer added to Griner swap as her trial resumes

Brittney Griner
Posted at 5:42 PM, Aug 01, 2022

MOSCOW (AP) — Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate has expanded from a cramped courtroom on Moscow’s outskirts to the highest level of Russia-U.S. diplomacy.

The WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist will return to court on Tuesday.

That is a month after the beginning of the trial in which she could face 10 years in prison if convicted.

As the trial has progressed, the Biden administration has faced rising calls for action to win her release.

In an extraordinary move, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov last week, urging him to accept a deal under which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction, would go free.

According to Bloomberg and CNN, the US offered to swap Griner and Whelan for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Whelan, whose been held by Russia since 2018, was sentenced to 16 years for spying two years ago.

Griner, who has been in Russia since February, pleaded guilty in early July.

Someone who isn't pleased with the proposal and voiced criticism is former President Donald Trump.

"He’s absolutely one of the worst in the world, and he’s going to be given his freedom because a potentially spoiled person goes into Russia loaded up with drugs,” Trump said per the Associated Press.

But according to those close to Moscow officials, Russia reportedly wants two Russians in return, or they'll reject the prisoner swap, Bloomberg and CNN reported.

According to the news outlets, Russia wants Vadim Krasikov released.

Krasikov, who is a former colonial with Russia's domestic spy agency, was convicted last year of murder in Germany, the news outlets reported.