Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine


Brittney Griner waits inside a defendants’ cage during a hearing in Khimki, outside Moscow, on August 4. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

American basketball star Brittney Griner, whose detention has raised fears she is being used as a political pawn during Russia’s war in Ukraine, got another visit from a US embassy official this week.

“We are told she’s doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Thursday.

Griner was detained in February and sentenced to nine years in prison on drug smuggling charges in August. A Moscow court rejected her appeal in a hearing on Oct. 25.

Here’s what we know about the effort to get Griner out of detention:

The US has offered a prisoner swap: Jean-Pierre reiterated Thursday that “the US government made a significant offer to the Russians to resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful, wrongful detentions” of Griner and Paul Whelan, another American detained by Russia.

US officials have proposed a prisoner swap with Moscow, and those efforts have continued in recent weeks despite the lack of apparent progress, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement last month.

“We have not been meeting with much positive response but we’re not stopping,” US President Joe Biden told reporters in October.

A senior Biden administration official who spoke to CNN that month said Russia has yet to present a serious counteroffer, but “they are not nonresponsive.”

“They continue to respond with something that they know not to be feasible or available,” the official said.

An unofficial line of communication: Former Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico – whose namesake center works on behalf of families of hostages and detainees – recently traveled to Russia to discuss the possible release of Griner and Whelan.

In early October, he told CNN he was “cautiously optimistic” the two Americans could be released by the end of the year.

Richardson, who also served as US ambassador to the United Nations under former President Bill Clinton, said he’s working with both their families and coordinating with the White House to work toward their releases. The former governor played a role in the release of Trevor Reed, an American veteran detained in Russia for three years before his release in April.

The White House has previously distanced itself from Richardson’s efforts.



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