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Deal for release of Americans Griner and Whelan held in Russia not reached, as yet

On Thursday, Russia said that it had not reached a deal with America on a possible prisoner swap. Earlier, many outlets reported that the American government had proposed a deal for exchanging prisoners. According to several outlets, Anthony Blinken, Secretary of State had said that a “substantial proposal” had been put forth to Moscow, in order to free two American prisoners in Russia: Britney Griner and Paul Whelan. Sources said that Washington said that they would release a known arms dealer, Viktor Bout, also known as the “Merchant of Death.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow that there were no agreements in this matter and that information should not be shared when such private topics were being discussed.

Another Russian official, Maria Zakharova, who is a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, said that there had been ongoing talks on prisoner exchanges from a while; however, there had been no result, as yet.

The three prisoners who are reportedly a part of the proposed swap are as follows:

Britney Griner

Britney Griner is a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star. On February 17, she was detained at the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, with vape cartridges that contained hashish oil. On Wednesday, in a Russian court, she said that she “plead guilty because of the actions that have happened but again, I did not intend to smuggle or bring any substance to Russia.” Her next hearing is early next month.

Paul Whelan

Paul Whelan is a former American marine. He holds U.S., British, Canadian and Irish passports. He was detained by agents from the Federal Security Service on December 28, 2018. Russia said that Whelan had classified information when he was caught in a Moscow hotel room. He was sentenced to 16 years in jail, in 2020, on espionage charges. He denied that he had spied on Russia.

Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout is called an arms dealer by America who said that he supplied military grade weapons to different global conflict zones. He was sentenced to a 25-year prison term in the U.S. Kremlin has been asking for his release and said that his detention was “baseless and biased.” Russia maintains that the U.S. special services placed false charges on Viktor Bout.

Brittney Griner sends letter to White House in plea for help

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