WNBA star Britney Griner was released Thursday in a one-for-one prisoner swap with international arms dealer Viktor Bout after months of being held in Russia for small amounts of cannabis.
Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested at a Russian airport on February 17 and later pleaded guilty to charges of possessing cannabis cartridges in his luggage a week before Russia invaded Ukraine.
She was eventually sentenced to nine years in prison for 0.7 grams of cannabis.[Ms. Griner] I purchased two personal cartridges with a total of 0.702 grams containing 0.252 grams and 0.45 grams of hash oil. saidGreiner was transferred to a Russian penal colony last month.
Griner’s case is controversial — given the thousands of Americans in prison in the United States and abroad on cannabis-related charges. Five months of diplomatic and deceptive messages from Russian officials have finally come to an end.
‘She’s safe, she’s on the plane, she’s on her way home,’ says Biden Said At the White House, alongside Griner’s wife Sherrell, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Secretary of State Anthony Brinken.
Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement released by the Russian news agency that the swap had taken place in Abu Dhabi and that Bout had returned home. rice field.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on November 18 that there was a new move around a possible prisoner exchange, but the public remained generally skeptical. Tensions remain high amid the unilateral invasion of Ukraine.
But the results are bittersweet for those whose family members are in custody on cannabis-related charges.
Releasing Griner comes at a price
Griner’s release comes with a price: To secure Griner’s release, Biden ordered Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” to be released and conditionally returned to Russia. Biden signed a commuting order releasing Bout from his 25-year federal sentence.
Bout is a former Soviet Army lieutenant colonel and has been described by the U.S. Department of Justice as one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers. Bout’s traces can be seen in supplying missiles and weapons in the fierce wars in Afghanistan, Colombia and Congo, as well as in his 2011 overthrow of Gaddafi’s regime in Libya.
Frankly, the fact that 0.7 grams of weed is considered equivalent is outrageous.
According to CBS News, former Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan: Russian officials were adamant about releasing Bout, or the deal wasn’t going well.
Match was arrested by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Thailand after a sting operation carried out by American agents in 2008.
Bout was recently imprisoned in a federal prison in Marion, Illinois before being released.
free other prisoners
As thousands of cannabis prisoners await release in the United States and abroad, some celebrities have pointed out the hypocrisy.
U.S. authorities attempted to bring both Griner and Paul Whelan back to their homes for several months.Paul Whelan was killed on Dec 12, 2018 on “espionage charges” that both his family and the U.S. government denied. He has been trapped in Russia since May.
‘We haven’t forgotten Paul Whelan’ Biden Said“We will continue to negotiate in good faith for Paul’s release.”
But it’s important to keep in mind that despite waiting for Paul’s release, Whelan’s own family supports his release. , made the right decision to make a possible deal rather than wait for a deal that did not materialize,” Paul’s brother David said in a statement.
Last April, the United States traded Russian cocaine smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko for former US prisoner Trevor Reed.