From left to right, Viktor Bout “The Merchant of Death” for Brittney Griner WNBA star and US Marine Paul Whelan could be made in a prisoner exchange as talks between the US and Russian governments continue (file photos from CNN News)
An International Trade is made Public
That’s Amaury News and Commentary
By Amaury Pi-González
Brittney Griner is a WNBA star with the Phoenix Mercury. She is the only NCAA and professional basketball player to both score 2,000 points and block 500 shots. Without a doubt one of the WNBA’s biggest stars. Griner was in Russia playing for the basketball team UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA off-season.
In February she was detained at Moscow Airport and has been in custody since then. Griner is accused of having vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage as she was trying to board a flight back to the US.
The US offered Russia a trade in order to free Brittney Griner. In this trade-deal the United States would send back to Russia convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, aka “The Merchant of Death” for Griner and also American Paul Whelan, who is also in a Russian jail.
This is very unusual. In the great majority of these types of international prisoners trades, the US never releases the information of what they are proposing. The US releases the information after the trade is consummated.
Usually the US government informs the media after the Americans are secured and coming back to their country. The same is when the US announces to the world that they have captured or killed a terrorist, they do not make the announcement before.
In another interesting piece of information, the US government also announced that this proposal was done months ago and they still have not heard any positive response from the Russian government. Today this is a very tough and delicate predicament for Griner who has been there since Russia invaded Ukraine and is caught in the middle of a very tense situation.
Sometimes we here in the US are very naive when we travel abroad, and forget that what in our free country is just a misdemeanor in other countries is a felony and in this case an international crisis.
This is not about basketball but about the tough job of diplomacy between two countries that for many decades (back to the Cold War) have never liked each other.
Griner is facing a ten year sentence if she is convicted and not released because she was carrying cannabis oil inside her luggage.
If this would have happened before the Russian-Ukraine war, chances are we might not even have known about it, and Griner would have been home for months, but she is very unlucky that this happened when a war was just beginning.
The US has sent Ukraine billions of dollars in weapons of war, supporting the fight against Russia. The US, although not involved with soldiers, is fighting Russia. This is the typical proxy war.
All this above sounds like at least a made-for-TV movie or even a feature film in Hollywood. Unfortunately we are all witnessing this as it happens, in real time, in this real crazy world it is more like a Live Reality Show with international consequences.
My hopes are that Brittney Griner can gain her freedom soon and return to her family in the United States.
Join Amaury Pi Gonzalez for News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com