Lawyers for Brittney Griner say the WNBA star is “stressed” in Russian prison as she awaits updates on the appeals process or a possible prisoner exchange, but more secret negotiations could be on the table after former Gov. Bill Richardson reportedly visited Moscow this week.
Over a month after her sentencing, Griner is “stressed and very much concerned for the future” with no new updates on her possible next steps, her lawyer Maria Blagovolina said, per People.
Griner’s legal team previously said they were going to file an appeal after the WNBA star was hit with a nine-year prison sentence on drug charges on August 4.
However, her lawyers say they’re still waiting for information on when hearings for the appeal will begin.
Yet, there may be some hope for Griner’s release following Richardson and his team meeting with Russian leadership this week, per CNN.
According to CNN, details regarding the meeting remain unclear, but the former New Mexico governor has been known to privately work to free hostages and detainees.
Richardson played a role in securing the release of American Trevor Reed earlier this year in a prisoner swap, a CNN source says.
Similarly to current reports, members of the Richardson Center traveled to Moscow in February and presented information to the White House about what the Russians were willing to do, which ultimately led to Reed’s April release, according to the source.
When asked about Richardson’s trip amid Griner’s detainment, a senior White House official told CNN that anyone “who’s going to Russia is going as a private citizen and they don’t speak for the US government.”
The Biden administration has said they were in talks with Russia to swap Griner and jailed American Paul Whelan in exchange for a Russian prisoner, but no new movement has been reported on the deal.
For now, the future of the WNBA star remains unknown. Richardson’s trip to Moscow could usher her exchange, her appeal hearings could begin, or she could face nine years in a Russian penal colony.