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WASHINGTON (AP) — State Department officials met Monday with representatives of Brittney Griner’s WNBA team about the Phoenix Mercury star’s months-long detention in Russia and the Biden administration’s efforts to secure his release.
The State Department confirmed the meeting, according to The Associated Press. It included officials from his specialized office that defends hostages and wrongfully detained Americans, but provided no additional details about what was said or who specifically attended.
Most recently, Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner faced a court hearing on May 13, where her detention was extended for another 30 days, according to her attorney, Alexander Boikov. Given that those 30 days have passed, it’s unclear what will happen next for Griner and those worried about his safe return.
Will Brittney Griner be exchanged for a Russian prisoner?
Meanwhile, the Russian news agency Tass, citing an unnamed source, claims that talks are currently underway to engage in a prisoner exchange: Brittney Griner for Victor Bout.
Russian businessman and arms dealer Victor Bout was sentenced in 2012 to 25 years in prison for trying to sell millions of dollars worth of arms to Colombian terrorists, ABC News reported at the time.
The administration has previously said it is working to bring Griner and another Michigan US corporate security official, Paul Whelan, back from Russia.
Griner was arrested Feb. 17 at an airport in Russia after authorities said a search of her bag revealed vape cartridges containing a cannabis derivative. In May, the State Department reclassified Griner as wrongfully detained and transferred oversight of her case to the State Department’s Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, or SPEHA.