American basketball player Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court on Thursday after diplomats failed to secure her release back to the United States.
"Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney. It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible," President Biden released in a statement about the news.
BREAKING: NBC News Special Report: WNBA star Brittney Griner sentenced to 9 years in jail on drug charges in Russia. https://t.co/pqY8hel0aL— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 4, 2022
Just last week the Biden administration started publicly negotiating her release and revealed an offer had been made in June to exchange Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout for Griner and Paul Whelan. With Griner's conviction, that offer appears to have been rejected.
"We made a substantial offer to secure the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner and to bring them home," National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said. "In order to increase the chances for success here, we’re obviously not going to be able to share more publicly about the deal. I’m sure you all have questions about what this looks like, and I’m sure you can all understand that it’s not going to help us get them home if we’re negotiating in public with you all. So I’m not going to have any more detail on that."