Biden Hopeful Brittney Griner Negotiations Will Be Better Post-Midterms

by | Nov 9, 2022 | Politics

President Joe Biden said Wednesday he is “determined” to bring home detained American basketball star Brittney Griner. He feels hopeful that Russian President Vladimir Putin is open to negotiating her release now that the midterm elections have concluded. Biden shared his optimism at a post-election press conference Wednesday, not long after news broke that Russian authorities had transferred the WNBA Phoenix Mercury center to a penal colony where she’ll serve her nine-year prison sentence. Advertisement“My hope is that now that the election is over, that Mr. Putin will be able to discuss with us and be willing to talk more seriously about prisoner exchange,” Biden said. “That is my intention. My intention is to get her home. And we’ve had a number of discussions so far. And I’m hopeful that now that our election is over, there’s a willingness to negotiate more specifically with us.”Brittney Griner sits inside a defendants’ cage during court proceedings in Moscow this past August. EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA via Getty ImagesBiden’s implication is that bringing Griner home would be a political win for him and the Democrats, potentially giving them an edge in Tuesday’s midterm elections. Putin benefits if Republicans gain more control in Congress, as GOP leaders have said they’ll cut support to Ukraine as they fend off the Russian invasion. Biden reiterated Wednesday that it’s a priority for him to secure the return of Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and other Americans in the clutches of the Kremlin. Advertisement“I am determined to get her home and get her home safely, along with others, I might add,” he said, adding that his administration has been “engaging on a regular basis” with Russian officials on the matter. Griner was on her way to play with the Russian Premier League during the WNBA offseason in February when she was detained at a Russian airport after authorities found cartridges containing less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage.The ordeal unfolded just days before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, which the U.S. has strongly opposed. Her supporters say the Kremlin is using her as a political pawn as tensions between Russia and the U.S. escalate. Amid the diplomatic efforts to bring her home, a Russian court sentenced her to nine years in August. One attempt at a prisoner exchange fell through in July when Russia demanded that the trade include a convicted Russian assassin. …

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