Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that the United States had made a “serious proposal” for a prisoner exchange and urged Russia to “accept it.”
“They should have accepted it weeks ago when we first achieved it,” he said. Asked if Washington was considering a counter-offer from Russia, Kirby said: “I don’t think we’d go any further to call it a counter-offer.”
Grenier, 31, was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia on Thursday after being convicted of drug possession and smuggling. She will also have to pay a fine of 1 million rubles ($16,590), but she can appeal the ruling.
The basketball star was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in February after Russian authorities said they had found cigarette packets containing cannabis oil in her luggage.
Greiner, a center for WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury who has played in Russia for the past seven years in the winter, admitted the packs had her. However, she said she unintentionally brought them to Russia after hastily packing.
In one last plea for leniency on Thursday, he Two-time Olympic gold medalist She apologized and reiterated that she had never intended to break any Russian laws and that she had made a “blatant mistake”.
Griner’s legal team said the basketball star was “deeply disappointed” with Thursday’s result.
“The court completely ignored all defense evidence and, most importantly, the guilty plea,” her lawyers said in a separate statement sent via messaging app Telegram. They said they would file an appeal.
Griner WNBA Team, Mercury phoenixHe said he hoped the Biden administration could secure her freedom.
“While we knew the legal process was never what would bring our friend home, today’s ruling is a milestone in the 168-day nightmare that our sister BG has endured,” the WNBA franchise said in a statement.
“We continue to mourn her, as we have done every day for nearly six months. We remain grateful and confident of the public servants who are working every day to bring her back to us and her family.”
The Kremlin was accused of using Greiner as a political tool, while the Biden administration was under increasing pressure from her family and teammates to secure her release.
Yulia Talmazan And the Julia Jester Contributed.