President Joe Biden is hopeful that Russian president Vladimir Putin will be more willing to discuss a prisoner swap involving WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner now that the midterm elections are over, he revealed during a press conference Wednesday.
Biden was asked about Griner following news that the Phoenix Mercury star had been transported to a penal colony to serve out a nine-year prison sentence after a Russian court denied her appeal last month.
“My guess is — my hope is that now that the election is over, that Mr. Putin will be able to discuss with us and be willing to talk more seriously about a prisoner exchange,” Biden said Wednesday.
WNBA STAR BRITTNEY GRINER TRANSFERRED TO RUSSIAN FORCED LABOR CAMP
“That is my intention. My intention is to get her home. And we've had a number of discussions so far. And I'm hopeful that now that our election is over, there is a willingness to negotiate more specifically with us.”
Biden did not elaborate but doubled down on his commitment to negotiate a prisoner swap.
“I am determined to get her home and get her home safely — along with others, I might add.”
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According to Griner’s attorneys, she left a detention center outside of Moscow on Friday but her exact location is unknown. According to the Associated Press, transfers to penal colonies, usually in remote parts of Russia, can take days or even weeks with limited to no contact.
“Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in the statement Wednesday.
“As the Administration continues to work tirelessly to secure her release, the President has directed the Administration to prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony.”
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Griner met with U.S. embassy officials in Moscow, more than a week after her appeal was denied.
A senior State Department official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case, said the Russians had not notified American diplomats of Griner’s transfer ahead of time and had not yet responded to queries from the American embassy about either her current whereabouts or ultimate destination.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.