Attribution to Loria Shaull – Own work
This is Brittney Griner. She is an eight-time WNBA All-Star and a two time Gold Medal winner. She was arrested in February of this year, on smuggling charges, by Russian authorities, after cartridges of hashish oil was found in her luggage. She had a closed door trial and was sentenced to nine years. Plain and simple, this was Russia’s response to the US sanctions, put in place, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Essentially, she became a political pawn.
Griner was released yesterday, in a prisoner exchange. To get Griner’s freedom, the US released Viktor Bout, an international arms dealer who had served 10 years of a 25 year sentence. Russia insisted that for a prisoner exchange to take place, it was either Griner or no exchange. Biden had secured the release of former Marine, Trevor Reed, earlier this year. Reed had been detained in Russia since 2019, on an alleged charge of endangering the “life and health” of Russian police officers, following an altercation. Paul Whelan, another former Marine, remains in Russia, serving a 16 year term for espionage. He has been detained, in Russia, since 2018.
Right wing media, including social media, are having a field day, attacking President Biden for exchanging Griner (some pundits calling her a drug smuggler) for a terrorist who will kill again. They are harping on the fact that the exchange should have involved Whelan, instead of Griner. They conveniently skip the part that it was either Griner, or no exchange at all.
What these hypocrites also conveniently forget is that Trump, when he was President, in his desire to seek any kind of victory, agreed to the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, in exchange for 1,000 prisoners “from the other side”. This exchange was to facilitate a peace agreement, with the Taliban, in Afghanistan. Trump had initially wanted all American troops out of Afghanistan by December 15, 2020. He agreed to a departure date of May 2021.
Biden is continuing to work on the release of Paul Whelan. But the sickening hypocrisy of the right just amazes. A total of 5,000 Taliban released. Republicans are complaining about the release of one person. Trump, later on denied that he was involved in the release of the 5,000 Taliban. But, of course he was. Then again right wing media has to deflect given the string of Biden victories lately, including the release of Griner, and the string of legal defeats that Trump is enduring.