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.
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.
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.