The Kremlin says it’s open to speaking a few doable prisoner alternate involving American basketball star Brittney Griner however strongly warned Washington towards publicising the difficulty.
A decide convicted Griner, 31, on Thursday of drug possession and smuggling, and sentenced her to 9 years in jail.
Griner, recognised as one of many best gamers in WNBA historical past, has been detained since February 17 after police mentioned they discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her baggage upon touchdown at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. She was returning to Russia, the place she has competed since 2014.
The 2-time US Olympic champion and an eight-time all-star with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, listened with a clean expression as an interpreter translated the decision by Decide Anna Sotnikova, however her legal professionals mentioned later she was “very upset.” Griner additionally was fined a million rubles (about £13,400).
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke final week to Russian Overseas Minister Sergey Lavrov a few commerce to free Griner, and the 2 of them have been each in Cambodia for an Asian summit on Friday.
US President Joe Biden denounced as “unacceptable” the decision and sentence, which got here amid hovering tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine.
Lavrov mentioned Moscow was prepared to debate a prisoner swap however that Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin solely might discuss a deal by way of confidential channels.
Lavrov mentioned: “There’s a particular channel [of communication] agreed upon by presidents. It doesn’t matter what anybody says publicly, this channel stays related. If the People resolve to depend on public diplomacy and make loud statements that they will take some steps, that’s their enterprise, and I’d say, their downside.
“As a result of People usually cannot stand agreements on quiet, skilled work, not solely on this subject, on many different matters. That is the reply: we’re prepared to debate this subject, however throughout the framework agreed upon by the presidents, (Vladimir) Putin and (Joe) Biden.”