President Joe Biden has been working diligently to secure a release for Brittney Griner from Russia.
It appears Biden’s efforts may have fallen temporarily short on Thursday. Griner was found guilty on drug smuggling charges. She now faces nine years in prison.
Biden reacted to the heartbreaking news via a press release:
“Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” Biden says in his statement.
“…I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”
The U.S. had offered a prisoner swap in July for Griner. While it was heavily speculated to be a favorable option for both the U.S. and Russia, that no longer seems to be the case.
Biden could still possibly work out a deal with Russia for Griner’s release. There’s the possibility that Russia still wanted to hand down a ruling while also accepting Biden’s offer.
Griner has been detained in Russia since February. The Houston, Texas native was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after cannabis oil was found in her possession.
Griner, like most WNBA players, had been playing overseas for extra income. While fellow teammates such as Diana Taurasi has made it back safely to the states, Griner was stuck in the middle of a political warfare.
The U.S. has been aiding Ukraine in their efforts against Russia, which certainly hasn’t eased the tensions of negotiations for Griner’s release.
Still, Biden was willing to give up Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner and Paul Whelan.
Political figures and athletes alike have offered their support for Griner’s return. The overall hope is Thursday’s verdict not being the ending to Griner’s .