OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
A Russian official has spoken on the case of WNBA star Brittney Griner and he did not say what she wanted to hear.
A close aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Yury Ushakov, was on the show “Moscow.Kremlin.Putin” when he made the comments, USA Today reported.
“In this tense situation, I think that he (Biden) is thinking first and foremost about the upcoming midterm elections,” he said. ” “He keeps emphasizing the need to bring (Griner) back home … however, it’s not the main issue that we are concerned about.”
Griner got more unwelcome news, this time from President Joe Biden, as he said there has not been any progress on getting her back to the United States.
The president made the comments as he spoke to reporters outside of the White House on Wednesday when asked if he planned to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G 20 summit, Newsweek reported.
“Look, I have no intention of meeting with him,” he said to anchor Jake Tapper on CNN. “But, for example, if he came to me at the G20 and said, ‘I want to talk about the release of Griner,’ I would meet with him.”
But when he was taking questions from reporters as he boarded Marine One he was not optimistic.
“You said you would be open to meeting with Vladimir Putin to discuss Brittney Griner. Have you seen any movement on that front?” the reporter said.
“Not with Putin,” the president said.
Former Russian Prisoner and American citizen Trevor Reed has detailed what he believes life is going to be like for WNBA star Brittney Griner in a Russian prison.
Griner is still behind bars in Russia after being sentenced to 9 years and is in for a tough time, he said.
“Regardless of how you feel about Brittney Griner’s case, that sentence is clearly political. There’s no denying that. Once you are convicted in a Russian court, you do have a chance to go to appeals and appeal that decision to another kangaroo court in Moscow. So after that trial, you know, depending on Brittney’s decision on whether she wants to appeal or not, she may stay in Moscow at the detention facility that she is already at until her appeals are completed. Or if she chooses not to go to appeals, they may transfer her to a forced labor camp. Considering the fact that the Russian government is considering exchanging her, they may also decide to leave her in Moscow to make it easier for her to be returned to the United States,” Reed said.
Reed said that those who are sent to the labor camps are “facing serious threats to their health” because of malnutrition and the lack of medical care.
“I am hoping that there will be an exchange that we are able to get them home, so I am hoping for the best in that,” he said of Griner and Paul Whelan.
Griner pleaded guilty to bringing vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil into Russia, which is a crime.
The White House revealed this week that there has not been any progress on negotiations with Russian officials to free Griner as she appeals her prison sentence.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing Tuesday that the Kremlin has yet to respond to the “serious” proposal made by the Biden administration in July to free Griner. Jean-Pierre reiterated the White House’s stance that Griner has been wrongfully imprisoned and called her coming appeal “another sham judicial proceeding.”
A Russian court in August sentenced Griner, an Olympic gold medalist and top player with the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA’s) Phoenix Mercury, to nine years in prison and a fine of about $16,000 after being found guilty of drug smuggling with criminal intent.
U.S. officials swiftly condemned the verdict and said they were working on a potential prisoner swap for Griner and Paul Whelan, another American who is serving time in Russia after the former Marine was arrested on espionage charges in 2018 at a Moscow hotel and later convicted to 16 years in prison. The proposed deal to free Griner reportedly involves the U.S. releasing Viktor Bout, an infamous Russian arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death.”