The United States government has proposed a prisoner swap with Russia that would see the return of Brittney Griner, CNN reports. Griner is an American basketball player with the Phoenix Mercury currently facing 10 years in prison in Russia for possession of cannabis – Griner has said during her trial that the cannabis was prescribed for chronic pain and that she brought it into Russia by accident. She pleaded guilty in July.
Griner would be exchanged for Viktor Bout, a Russian national convicted of arms trafficking in 2011 who is currently serving a 25-year sentence. The swap would also include corporate security director and former marine Paul Whelan, a Canadian-born American citizen who was convicted of espionage against Russia in 2020.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the offer was made "weeks ago" to Russian officials and that he expects to discuss the proposal this week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Griner's trial would have to conclude before any successful swap, according to administration officials.
Support for Griner's release has grown across the United States since her February arrest. Several athletes made speeches in support of Griner during last week's ESPY Awards. President Biden has spoken with Griner's family including her wife, Cherelle.