WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittany Griner is escorted from the courtroom after a listening to in Khimki on Thursday, August 4, 2022, exterior Moscow, Russia. A choose in Russia has convicted American basketball star Brittany Griner of medicine. Possession and smuggling and sentenced him to 9 years in jail. (AP picture/Alexander Zemlyanichenko)

Is Brittany Griner a political pawn? Was his sentence premeditated by the Russian authorities on drug costs? Will she return safely to america sooner or later?

Rice College political science professor Richard Stoll, who focuses on worldwide relations, addressed these questions Friday throughout an interview on Houston Issues with Craig Cohen.

Stoll described an announcement on Thursday by Russian International Minister Sergei Lavrov, who stated his authorities was prepared to debate a prisoner swap with the US, a “very, very optimistic signal” for Griner. Is. The 31-year-old Houston ladies’s basketball star has been jailed in Russia for practically six months and sentenced on Thursday to 9 years in jail after pleading responsible to drug trafficking and possession costs.

“I do not suppose (Lavrov) can go alone and say this. I believe there is a actuality behind it,” Stoll stated. “I do not suppose it robotically means there will likely be a swap, nevertheless it’s a great signal for that.”

Griner, who starred at Aldine Nimitz Excessive College and Baylor College earlier than turning into a two-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-time WNBA All-Star, was arrested in February at a Moscow airport with cartridges of hashish oil in her baggage was. He later admitted that he had unlawful substances in Russia, including that he was prescribed medical marijuana by his physician within the US and inadvertently packed the cartridges in a rush to get to the airport.

A few week after Griner’s arrest, Russia invaded Ukraine. In Might, the US State Division stated Griner was being unfairly detained.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken introduced in late July that the US had provided Russia a deal aimed on the launch of Griner and one other imprisoned American, former Marine Paul Whelan. Reuters reported on Friday that the US provide consists of the discharge of Russian arms supplier Viktor Bout, citing unnamed sources accustomed to the state of affairs.

Stoll stated he thinks such a swap has a great potential. In April, the US launched Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko in change for former Marine Trevor Reid, who had been imprisoned in Russia since 2019.

“From the standpoint of the Russians, how do they need to seem to the world?” Stoll stated. “If it is like, ‘Okay, we and America are on reverse sides in Ukraine, and we have now to indicate the world that we’re not afraid of America and we oppose them and we will do one thing for them,’ it is unhealthy. is (Griner). She goes to jail. It is like, ‘That is it. That is the top of the story.'”

“Then again, if the perspective on the highest ranges of the Russian authorities is, ‘Okay, we oppose the US about Ukraine, however we need to present the world that we’re a beautiful nation,’ and many others., and many others., and many others.” It will be an argument to do one thing to let him go.”

Stoll stated it is doable Griner’s February 17 arrest was carried out by the Russian authorities, however he considers it extra possible {that a} low-ranking officer at a Moscow airport discovered hashish oil whereas conducting a routine seek for baggage.

“As soon as she is caught, every thing else for my part is one thing that was authorised and/or directed by the very best ranges of the Russian authorities,” Stoll stated.

Stoll stated the longer Griner is imprisoned in Russia, the extra risks he faces.

“I do not suppose going to any jail is a humorous factor, however I believe a Russian jail is worse than an American jail,” he stated. “She’ll be seen by some inmates as, I consider, ‘She’s an American. I may help my state of affairs if I deal with her badly, as a result of we’re up in opposition to the Individuals.’ That is why I fear quite a bit about what is going to occur to her in a Russian jail, although it’s anticipated that she will likely be launched actually quickly.”

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