US President Joe Biden reacted to the decision of the Russian court, which found American basketball player Brittney Griner guilty of drug smuggling. Biden called the verdict unacceptable, reports CNN.
"This is unacceptable and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates," Biden said in a statement.
He added that Washington will do everything possible to return Britney as soon as possible, as well as Paul Whelan home safe and sound.
On August 4, the Khimki City Court found Brittney Greiner guilty of drug smuggling and sentenced her to 9 years in a penal colony. According to the verdict, Greiner was also fined 1 million rubles.
Two-time Olympic champion Greiner was detained in February 2022 at Sheremetyevo. During the inspection, vapes with hash oil were found in her.
At the end of July, the Biden administration offered to exchange Russian Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for illegal arms trafficking, for Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, who were detained in Russia, CNN reports citing sources.
Paul Whelan was arrested in Russia on charges of espionage. He was detained on December 28, 2018, according to the prosecution, "while conducting a spy operation." The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case under the article "Espionage". It provides for punishment in the form of imprisonment for a term of 10 to 20 years. According to the lawyer, a flash drive was confiscated from Whelan, which contained information constituting a state secret. At the same time, Whelan believed that the flash drive contained personal information about his previous visits to the Russian Federation, but he did not have time to get acquainted with its contents.
Whelan's brother told CNN that he flew to Moscow on Dec. 22 for the wedding of a friend, a former Marine, and a Russian woman. He added that Paul previously served in the US Marine Corps and was on several business trips in Iraq, and most recently worked for the American company BorgWarner, which supplies auto parts. The company clarified that Whelan is responsible for the security of its facilities in the US state of Michigan and other places around the world.
According to The Washington Post, Whelan was fired from the U.S. military in 2008 after being caught stealing several times. He has served in the US Marine Corps since 1994. Acquaintances of the American said that he had come to Russia several times since 2007. Rosbalt, citing a source in the Russian special services, wrote that Whelan was detained in the Metropol hotel room when he received a flash card with a list of all employees of one of the secret Russian departments.
Viktor Bout was detained in 2008 in Bangkok on a warrant issued by a local court at the request of the United States. He was accused of illegally supplying weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia group. In 2010, Bout was extradited to the United States. In April 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and fined $15 million.