Brittney Griner case: Russia 'ready' to discuss prisoner swap

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Brittney Griner case: Russia “ready” to discuss prisoner swap

Brittney Griner chats with her lawyers, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, before a court hearing in Khimki, Moscow region.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow was willing to discuss with Washington a prisoner exchange involving basketball player Brittney Griner, via a communication channel at the presidential level.

We are ready to discuss this subject, but only within the framework of the channel [of communication] which has been agreed by Presidents [Vladimir] Putin and [Joe] Biden, Lavrov told a press conference from Cambodia.

There is a special channel, which is agreed by the presidents, and despite some public statements, this channel retains all its relevance, he continued.

If the Americans still decide to engage in public diplomacy and make resounding statements […], that is their business, and even their problem, added Mr. Lavrov, assuring that Washington cannot manage to work calmly and professionally on many topics.

A Russian court on Thursday sentenced American women's basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison for drug trafficking, a heavy sentence that opens the way to a possible exchange of prisoners between Moscow and Washington.

Last week, the head of the American diplomacy Antony Blinken and his counterpart Sergei Lavrov had their first discussions since the beginning of Moscow's offensive in Ukraine.

Mr. Blinken said he pressed his counterpart to accept Washington's hefty offer to Moscow to secure the release of Griner and another American detained in Russia, Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence for espionage. /p>

According to several American media, it would be a question of exchanging a famous Russian arms trafficker detained in the United States, Viktor Bout, for Brittney Griner and Mr. Whelan.

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