Support for Brittney Griner not unanimous: ‘Bowe Bergdahl all over again’

Analysis by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News July 31, 2022

Team Biden has rejected Russia’s counteroffer on a prisoner swap for WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, report said.

Brittney Griner arrives for a hearing at Russia’s Khimki court.

The Kremlin requested that a former Russian spy who was convicted of murder in Germany and is in a German prison be part of the deal in addition to the inclusion of convicted Russian arms dealer and terrorist Viktor Bout who is serving a 25-year sentence in a U.S. prison, CNN reported.

The proposal never made it to the top of the German government and the offer was not seriously considered, the report said.

Russia communicated the request to the U.S. through an informal backchannel used by the FSB spy agency. The Kremlin said it wanted Vadim Krasikov released. He was convicted in December of murdering a former Chechen fighter, Zelimkhan “Tornike” Khangoshvili, in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten in 2019 and sentenced to life in prison.

Because the request was not communicated formally but rather through the FSB backchannel, Team Biden did not view it as a legitimate counter to the U.S. offer, the report said.

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told CNN that Russia’s offer was a “bad faith attempt to avoid a very serious offer” and said in reference to the offer of Bout that “we urge Russia to take that offer seriously.”

“It’s just that they haven’t been willing to faithfully consider or even seriously consider the offer that we put forward. I would not say stalled. … We very much want to see Brittney and Paul come home to their families where they belong. They’re wrongfully detained there. And we’re just going to keep at that work,” Kirby said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “So far, there are no agreements in this area, when discussing such topics, you don’t conduct information attacks.”

Former President Donald Trump, speaking to radio hosts Clay Travis and Buck Sexton on Friday, said of Griner: “She went in there loaded up with drugs into a hostile territory where they’re very vigilant about drugs. They don’t like drugs. And she got caught. And now we’re supposed to get her out — and she makes, you know, a lot of money, I guess. We’re supposed to get her out for an absolute killer and one of the biggest arms dealers in the world. Killed many Americans. Killed many people. And he’s gonna get a free card and we’re gonna get her.”

Trump added: “She knew you don’t go in there loaded up with drugs, and she admitted it. I assume she admitted it without too much force because it is what it is, and it certainly doesn’t seem like a very good trade, does it? He’s absolutely one of the worst in the world, and he’s gonna be given his freedom because a potentially spoiled person goes into Russia loaded up with drugs.”

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