Who could be part of a US-Russia prisoner exchange

MOSCOW    –   Moscow and Washington have been in talks about a new prisoner ex­change, in a rare moment of dialogue with tensions soaring over Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. A Russian arms dealer, a former teach­er and a US basketball star are among the potential candidates for the swap.

BRITTNEY GRINER

US basketball star Brittney Griner is on trial in Russia after she was ar­rested at a Moscow airport in Febru­ary for possessing vape cartridges with cannabis oil. The arrest came just days before Moscow launched its offensive in Ukraine on February 24. She said it was prescribed by a US doctor to relieve pain from her many injuries.

The 31-year-old Phoenix Mercury player came to Russia to play basket­ball for a club in Russia’s Yekaterin­burg during the off-season.

The two-time Olympic gold med­allist and Women’s NBA champion was charged with drug smuggling and Russian prosecutors requested a sentence of nine and a half years.

PAUL WHELAN

Former US marine Paul Whelan, 52, was arrested in December 2018 and accused by Russian security services of spying. He was detained on a visit to Moscow to attend a wedding when he took a USB drive from an acquain­tance, thinking it contained holiday photographs. The former security of­ficial at a vehicle parts company — who also has British, Canadian and Irish passports — was sentenced to 16 years on espionage charges in June 2020.

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