As a potential prisoner swap looms, today makes 21 weeks of Phoenix Mercury’s 31-year-old star center Brittney Griner detention in Russia. In February at Moscow airport Russian officials arrested Griner. WNBA star Griner was on her way to play overseas for her team UMMC Yekaterinburg. Like most WNBA players Griner plays overseas to earn more money. Women’s basketball leagues overseas pay female athletes much more. Even Griner makes almost $800,000 more in Russia than she does playing basketball here in America.
Although this opportunity tends to be more of a blessing due to recent circumstances. Griner or any other female basketball players may never play in Russia again.
Moreover, Griner’s trial began on July 1. Her next court appearance will be today, July 14. Griner plead guilty to the charges of drug possession and smuggling. She faces up to 10 years in prison.
The guilty plea strategy can likely get her back home to America quicker. This strategic plan is hoped to ultimately lead to a prisoner swap. Paul Whelan, former marine detained in Russia since 2018, could potentially be apart of this trade.
Potential Russians for Prisoner Swap
1. Viktor Bout
Viktor Bout is a Russian arms dealer convicted in 2011 of selling weapons to a terrorist group that kills Americans. He is currently serving 25 years in federal prison. Bout also known as the “Merchant of Death” and is Russian main option for exchange.
2. Konstantin Yaroshenko
Yaroshenko, a pilot sentenced in 2011, is serving 20 years in for drug smuggling. However, Yaroshenko is back in Russia. A prisoner swap for Trevor Reed, a former marine, occurred back in 2019.
How likely will a prisoner swap take place?