Washington [US], August 16 (ANI): The US on Monday condemned the imprisonment of Olympic gold medalist and popular American women's basketball player Brittney Griner sentence who was sentenced to nine years in jail by Russia last week.
Addressing a media briefing, US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said, "No element of this trial changes our judgment that Brittney Griner is being wrongfully detained and should be released immediately. That is why we've put forward a number of weeks ago what we consider to be a serious, substantial proposal and an effort to seek her release, to seek the release of Paul Whelan as well. We are in communication with the Russians on this matter, and we encourage them to pursue this, to do so constructively."
The negotiations on a potential prisoner swap with Russia for Brittney Griner and marine Paul Whelan and are being held at various levels.
A Russian court sentenced Griner to nine years in jail on charges of smuggling and possessing cannabis oil in Russia. Whelan was arrested in Moscow in 2018 for allegedly possessing classified information and sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020.
Griner and her legal team filed an appeal of that sentence after Russia confirmed that negotiations over a potential prisoner swap between the United States and Russia were underway.
The 31-year-old Griner, who participated in the gold-winning teams in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and Tokyo five years later, was in the nation to represent UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian Premier League. She began with the team in 2014.
Answering to "quiet diplomacy," which Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov seems to have been suggesting a couple of weeks, Price said, "We are in communication with Russian officials on the serious, substantial proposal that we put forward. We are going to do everything we can to see the release of Paul Whelan, to see the release of Brittney Griner. We are not going to speak to the details of that. But we will continue to urge the Russians to engage constructively so that we can bring this to a resolution."
Commenting on crisis between Russia and Ukraine, Price said that the US remain concerned about ongoing military operations at or near Ukraine's peaceful nuclear facilities.
"We have called on Russia to return full control of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to Ukraine. You probably also saw that the G7 issued a statement late last week reiterating the need for Russia to hand back control of the plant to Ukraine. We're closely monitoring the activity at the plant. Both the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Safety and Security Administration report that radiation sensors are continuing to provide data, and through that data we've seen no indication of abnormal radiation levels," said Price. (ANI)