Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Russia Rules Out WNBA Star Griner’s Exchange Until Conviction

Andrey Nikerichev /Moskva News Agency

Moscow will not discuss swapping basketball star Brittney Griner in a potential exchange with the United States until her formal conviction on drug smuggling charges, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Thursday.

Ryabkov told reporters that were currently “no nominal, formal or procedural grounds to take any further steps” regarding Griner’s exchange, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.

“It’s clear that the necessary judicial procedures have not been completed,” the diplomat added, addressing rumors that Griner could be exchanged for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms trafficker serving a 25-year jail term in the United States.

Griner, a two-time Olympic champion who was detained at a Moscow airport in the run-up to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February, faces up to 10 years in prison on charges of smuggling cannabis vape cartridges into the country. 

The 31-year-old is due to appear in court for another hearing later on Thursday. 

U.S. President Joe Biden, who has written Griner a letter and spoken to her wife, said Wednesday that the WNBA star was “wrongfully detained.”

But Ryabkov lashed out at the designation, claiming that the remark reflected the United States’ unwillingness to “perceive the world around them adequately.”

He also warned that the “hype” surrounding Griner “disturbed” the court process.

“It is not statements of this kind that can help the situation now, but a serious look by the American side at the signals they have received from Moscow through specialized channels,” Ryabkov said.

The White House, which has placed its special envoy in charge of hostages on Griner’s case, said Wednesday it is “working to secure Brittney’s release as soon as possible.”

AFP contributed reporting.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more