The Biden administration has proposed exchanging a jailed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for the release of two Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan held by Russia.
Brittney Griner, a player for the WNBA, and Paul Whelan, the director of security, have been held captive for several months, but their freedom may finally be at hand if the United States agrees to release Viktor Bout.
Following his conviction in 2011 by a federal court for engaging in a plot to murder US residents and officials, Bout is currently serving a sentence of 25 years in prison in the United States.
In statements at the State Department, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated, “We submitted a serious proposal to facilitate their release weeks ago.”
Blinken stated that he intends to discuss the suggestion with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
It will be the first time they’ve talked since late February, when Russia invaded Ukraine.
Whelan has been arrested by Russia since 2018 on suspicion of spying, while Griner was taken after a scan of her bags at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport allegedly discovered that she possessed cartridges containing liquid containing hashish oil.
The relatives of both individuals have urged the White House to secure their release, even if it means trading a prisoner.
Griner pled guilty earlier this month, but claimed she smuggled cannabis into the country by accident.
As part of her ongoing trial, which began on Wednesday, she testified in a Russian courtroom. If convicted, she could spend up to ten years behind bars.
According to US sources who are familiar with the judicial system in Russia, the trial must come to a successful conclusion before a settlement can be signed.