US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the US has made a “substantial offer” to Russia to secure the release of basketball player Brittney Griner and convicted spy Paul Whelan. According to a CNN report, the offer involves trading Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for the two Americans.
“In the coming days I expect to speak to Russian Foreign Minister [Sergey] Lavrov … I plan to raise an issue that’s a top priority for us, the release of America’s Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner,” Blinken told reporters. “Our governments have communicated repeatedly and directly on that proposal, and I’ll use the conversation to follow up personally.”
Griner has been detained in Russia since February on drug charges, while Whelan, a former US Marine, was convicted in 2020 of espionage and is currently serving a 16-year sentence in a Russian prison.