Prisoner swap needed to get Griner back to U.S., expert says

Morning In America

(NewsNation) — There are numerous reasons WNBA star Brittney Griner, currently detained in Russia on drug charges, might have pleaded guilty — even if she actually isn’t.

White House officials say Griner has been “wrongfully detained” since February, after vape canisters with cannabis oil were allegedly found in her luggage. The Phoenix Mercury player and two-time Olympic gold medalist faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. On Thursday, Griner pleaded guilty in a Russian court, telling a judge she didn’t intend to break the law.

“This is all a fairy tale … a perverse play that she’s an involuntary player in,” Jonathan Franks, a crisis management consultant and spokesperson for Trevor Reed, another American formerly detained in Russia, said on NewsNation’s “Morning in America.” “One of the strategic reasons for pleading guilty is to end the proceeding early. Russian courts have a 99% conviction rate, so she was going to be found guilty anyway. So in a sense, she didn’t have a whole lot to lose.”

To get Griner back in this kind of a situation, it will take decisive action by President Joe Biden, Franks said.

“I think it’s going to take a prisoner swap,” he added. That’s how Reed was able to arrive back in the U.S. The Texas Marine veteran was released in April in exchange for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko.

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