June 2, 2023

WASHINGTON — Immediately after sentenced Brittney Griner to nine years in prison on Thursday, a Moscow judge called on President Biden to find a way to bring her home, despite critics scrambling for a prisoner swap with Moscow to reward Russia for taking hostages. feel angry.

The result is a painful predicament for the Biden administration as it tries to take a hard line against Russian President Vladimir V. Putin in the Ukraine war.

“There’s nothing good here,” said Andrea Schneider, an expert on international conflict resolution at the Cardozo School of Law. “No matter what Biden does, he’s going to be criticized — either we’re giving too much or we’re not working hard enough.”

Kremlin officials have said exchange talks cannot take place until her trial is complete, but even with an official verdict and verdict, an agreement may not be reached anytime soon.

“I think the fact that Putin didn’t say yes right away means he saw the U.S. offer and said, ‘Well, this is their first offer. I can get more than that,'” on behalf of Americans detained by foreign governments Human rights lawyer Jared Genser said.

The Biden administration proposes to use Ms. Greener and Paul N. Whelan, a former Marine convicted of spying in Moscow in 2020, in a deal with Victor Bout, a notorious Russian arms dealer who offered to sell He was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison. Armed a Colombian rebel group, which the United States considered a terrorist group at the time.

Mr. Biden finds himself squeezed in two ways.

On the one hand are supporters of Ms Greener. Her wife, Cherelle Griner, has publicly pleaded with Mr. Biden to reach a deal with Mr. Putin as soon as possible. The requests were echoed by Pastor Al Sharpton, Democratic activist groups, television pundits, professional athletes and social media personalities.

But there has also been criticism from the other side of Mr. Biden — and accusations that Mr. Biden has been succumbing to blackmail by Mr. Putin, who he calls a war criminal.

“That’s why authoritarian regimes — like Venezuela, Iran, China, Russia — hold Americans hostage because they know they’re going to get something for it,” Rep. Mike Waltz, Republican of Florida, told Newsmax last week. . “They know that in the end some government will pay. It just puts the target on the backs of every American.”

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded to the criticism in a Fox News interview last week, saying the release of Mr. Boot “could lead to more” arrests of Americans abroad.

Former President Donald J. Trump, who could run again in 2024, has harshly attacked the proposed deal. He said Mr Boot was “absolutely one of the worst people in the world, and he will be free because a potentially spoiled man came into Russia with drugs.” (Detained at an airport in the Moscow region in mid-February Russian officials for Ms. Griner found less than a gram of cannabis oil in her bag.)

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