According to Reports via CNN, The Biden Administration is seeking the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner through an exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Griner who has been captive 160 days testified recently in Russian court that she did not intend to break Russian Law and that she did not understand how the oil ended up in her bag.
Griner also testified that she initially did not know and was not told why she was being detained and was required to sign documents without a lawyer & with only cursory translation of the allegations made Against her. Griner had a medicinal prescription for the use of cannabis for pain treatment but stressed that it was not her intent to break any Russian laws.
Maria Blagovolina, one Griner’s attorneys stated, “With the prescription in place, Brittney may have used it for medical, but not for recreational purposes.”
Viktor Bout is a convicted Russian Arms trafficker serving a 25 year US prison sentence.
There is clearly a disproportionate level of the criminality alleged involved in the exchange of citizens and the terms of the swap appears to currently be possibly a 2 for 1 swap with Paul Whelan, another American, also potentially coming home in the deal.
Upon initially learning of this story, the Black With No Chaser team characterized Griner’s detention as her being held captive for political leverage & we maintain this position on the matter. Griner deserves to be released but it is our position that she should not have ever been being held captive for what she was accused of in the first place.
Griner’s plight has not often been met with the level of compassion or grace that we had hoped the community would extend to her and she was often admonished and accused of putting herself in position to be arrested. This characterization of what occurred with Griner is unfair and dismisses the notion that Russia, a country known for its chess masters, could have very well been looking for any opportunity to capture a piece significant enough to get back a major piece in return. It does not strike us as coincidence that the person they seek in return for a high profile person accused of cannabis cartridges is an international arms dealer.
Our main hope and desire is that Brittney Griner gets home safe and soon.