Headline RoundupAugust 14th, 2022

Russia Confirms Brittney Griner Prisoner Swap Discussions with US

AllSides Summary

Russia has confirmed negotiations with the U.S. regarding a potential prisoner swap to bring home WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday revealed that private talks are underway between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin via a channel established in June 2021 when the two leaders met in Geneva. One Russian diplomat on Saturday said that Moscow is eyeing a trade where Washington would release Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout for Griner. 

Bout, also known as "The Merchant of Death," is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for supplying weapons to a terrorist organization and plotting to kill U.S. citizens. Meanwhile, a Russian court has sentenced Griner to 9 years in prison for allegedly smuggling two vape cartridges with cannabis.

Coverage was widespread and mostly balanced across the spectrum. Some reports accentuated experts who argued that exchanging Bout for Griner is an "uncomfortable" but "necessary trade," while other outlets highlighted those who denied that logic and said that the trade would "hurt the U.S."

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