Moscow [Russia], December 9 (ANI): Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said that there is a possibility of other swaps with the US after basketball star Brittney Griner was exchanged with Viktor Bout, an imprisoned Russian arms dealer, according to Reuters.
Responding to a question about the possibility of the other swap with the US, Putin said, "Yes, everything is possible. This is the result of negotiations in search of a compromise. In this case, compromises were found and we are not against continuing this work in the future."
We did not set ourselves the task of moving from these negotiations to different ones, but, of course, they create a certain atmosphere, and that's true. But at these negotiations, no other questions were discussed. The second one is that contacts on the special services' line, between the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service) and CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) from one and the other side - were not our initiative. It was the Americans' initiative. US President Joe Biden suggested it and we agreed, as you can see. We didn't expect anything supernatural from these negotiations. They took place under normal work conditions and partners agreed that the contacts would be continued," Reuters quoted Putin as saying.
This statement came after Griner was released by Russia in a prisoner exchange with Viktor Bout, an imprisoned Russian arms dealer.
Notably, Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer known as the "Merchant of Death" was given a 25-year prison sentence by the US in 2012.
On Thursday morning, Biden shared a picture with Brittney Griner's wife Cherelle Griner on his Twitter handle and wrote, "Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner. She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home."
Addressing a presser, Biden said, "After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should've been there all along."
He also thanked the United Arab Emirates for their help in facilitating her release as the exchange took place at Abu Dhabi airport on Thursday. He said he expected her to be back in the US in the next 24 hours.
The basketball star's case became an international cause because she was seen as a hostage held by Russia's President Vladimir V Putin and was subjected to a broad swath of international sanctions in response to its invasion of Ukraine a week after her arrest, The New York Times reported.
Griner was described by one of her lawyers this fall as struggling emotionally and increasingly worried that she would not be freed. According to her lawyer, she was permitted outside once a day to walk for an hour in a small courtyard, and otherwise confined to a cramped cell with two cellmates. She slept on a specially elongated bed to accommodate her 6-foot-9 frame.
American officials met with her in the penal colony last month for the first time since a Russian court rejected her appeal and reported that she was doing "as well as can be expected," as a White House spokeswoman put it at the time. Griner turned 32 while in custody and her family continued to press for her release, reported The New York Times.
In February, the Russian authorities detained Brittney Griner on drug charges after finding vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her luggage while she was at an airport near Moscow.
After her arrest, Griner, an All-Star centre with the W.N.B.A.'s Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was sentenced to nine years in prison which President Biden termed "unacceptable" and called for the immediate release of the athlete.
"It's is unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates," Biden said in a statement. (ANI)