Nations care for people, many would claim. Although such claims are usually not met with hard-earned evidence, things may have worked out for former U.S Basketball star Brittney Griner. Griner was sentenced to nine years of Russian prison because she was caught in the airport with vape canisters and Cannabis Oil. Years later, she returned back home in a US-Russia prisoner swap program. Although one has returned, another detainee, Paul Whelan’s status still remains in the shadows.

President Joe Biden addressed the return of the former WNBA star Thursday morning. “She’s relieved to be heading home finally, and the fact remains that she’s lost months of her life, experienced needless trauma, She endured mistreatment and a show trial in Russia with characteristic grit and incredible dignity.” announced the POTUS. Biden also mentioned that she is in “good spirits”.

Brittney Griner in Russian Prison

Brittney Griner Russian Prison Swap
Brittney seen in Russian Prison, image courtesy of

The conditions around Griner’s arrest felt like a facade, as per the White House. Who commented that it was a “sham” of a trial. Biden went on to address that Brittney Griner has been subject to multiple needless trauma in the Russian prison. Facing maltreatment and had to endure an exhibition of a trial that was done with political intent.

  1. Griner’s arrest came in a way that made her admit in the court that it was her ‘honest’ mistake. Moscow Airport security detained her when they found her carrying vape canisters and cannabis oil in the luggage.
  2. Russia sentenced her to nine years in prison for charges of illegal drug smuggling to the country. Griner pleaded guilty and has been detained ever since.
  3. Who was Griner before she was a Russian Drug Convict you ask? Well, she was a basketball star on the Baylor University Lady Bears basketball team.

The status of other American detainees in Russian prisons, including Paul Whelan

Brittney Griner in Russia
Image snapped from Yahoo News
  1. Griner’s release comes at a worrying concern for other Russian-held American prisoners, however. Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan was arrested in Russia on charges of espionage.
  2. The white house confirmed that the Russian treatment of this case has been more complicated and strict than that of Brittney. Paul Whelan’s brother, David Whelan said that the administration “made the right decision” in agreeing to the prisoner swap that freed Griner.

Why the U.S Administration gambled on Brittney over former U.S Marine Paul Whelan

It feels natural that even on the priority list, a former U.S. Navy should rank higher than a sports star. It’s often a difficult task for nations in such situations to decide on which ‘hostage’ so to speak, to take back. This has been an evident dilemma over multiple terrorist-held hostage negotiations. Although the Russian prisoner swap has been more of a diplomatic sway than a military terrorism situation.

“I am so glad that Brittney Griner is on her way home, As the family member of a Russian hostage, I can literally only imagine the joy she will have, being reunited with her loved ones, and in time for the holidays.

“There is no greater success than for a wrongful detainee to be freed and for them to go home, The Biden Administration made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to happen.”

Said David Whelan referring to his brother, whose situation is more of an off-put risk. Put it this way, the government couldn’t have negotiated much with Whelan because of his high-off charges. Brittney was a relatively easier win. They took their chances, they came out winning the bid.

Who was exchanged with Brittney Griner in Russian Prisoner swap?

US Detainee prison swap Paul Whelan
Image courtesy of BBC

Brittney Griner’s exchange negotiation happened over the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. In a report by CBS News, it is mentioned that he is nicknamed “the Merchant of Death“. President Biden mentioned that he had been in “painstaking and intense negotiations” to quote him verbatim, in finding release for the American detainees in Russia.

Prior to Brittney Griner’s release, Biden tweeted that she is on a plane and on her way back home. Thursday morning in the press conference, Griner’s wife Cherelle joined the POTUS in addressing Griner’s release. She expressed just how overwhelmed she has been with the revelation and the administration’s attempts.

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SOURCES: Yahoo News, Texas Tribune
Rhytham is a Philosophy graduate who founded a state-level organization that promotes anime and Japanese culture in his home state in India. He is also an ardent writer, poet, musician, vocalist, graphic designer, and photoshop artist. He has worked on multiple state and national level conventions. Other than anime, catch him watching western series that really have in themselves the solidity to catch his attention.