August 13, 2022

South Sudan News Agency

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The Biden administration is offering a convicted Russian arms dealer in exchange for two Americans detained in Russia

After months of infighting, Joe Biden’s administration offered to exchange Viktor, a Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States, as part of a deal that the Russians drugged basketball star Brittney Griner. – Paul Whelan, accused of human trafficking and espionage, will be acquitted; CNN reported From government sources. During a news broadcast The Washington Post also confirmed it.

The Justice Department opposed Butt’s change, but Joe Biden supported it. According to CNN’s sources, this fact violates the ministry’s position, which is generally against prisoner exchanges.

“Based on previous discussions with the Russians, we have submitted an important offer that we believe can be successful.” A senior government official told CNN on Wednesday.

For spying In 2018, Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in prison and from February for drug possession The family of WNBA star Kreiner, who is jailed in Moscow, urged the White House to fight for their release, even through a prisoner exchange if necessary.

Greener He confessed to the crime At the beginning of July, but he said that he accidentally brought cannabis to Russia. He testified in a Russian courtroom on Wednesday as part of his ongoing trial on drug-related charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years. U.S. officials familiar with the Russian judicial process and the inner workings of U.S.-Russia negotiations say his investigation must be completed before a settlement can be finalized.

Anthony Blinken announced Wednesday that the United States submitted a “qualifications proposal” to Moscow “weeks ago” in the case of Whelan and Griner, which were classified as illegal detentions. The foreign minister announced that he would discuss the matter during a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week.

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The U.S. government has long opposed prisoner transfers, arguing that they encourage countries to detain Americans to be used as bargaining chips. On the other hand, according to them, Bhutto was found guilty in an open and fair trial. Advocates questioned those concerns, arguing that it was more important that Americans be allowed to return home.

The idea of ​​a prisoner exchange gained new momentum among senior Biden administration officials earlier this year after the successful release of former Marine Trevor Reed, who had been held in Russia for more than two years. Reed was traded for Russian pilot Konstantin Yarosenko, who at the time was serving a 20-year federal sentence for cocaine trafficking.

Their release would be a much-needed political victory for the White House ahead of November’s midterm elections, some officials acknowledged to CNN. (via CNN)