Russian diplomat says prisoner swap with US remains possible

Nov 28, 2022, 9:06 PM | Updated: Nov 29, 2022, 12:20 pm
FILE - WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a courtroom af...

FILE - WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a courtroom after a hearing in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 4, 2022. A senior Russian diplomat says that Russia and the United States have repeatedly come close to reaching agreement on a prisoner exchange and a deal remains possible before the year's end. The Biden administration long has been trying to negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American jailed in Russia, corporate security executive Paul Whelan, including through a possible prisoner swap with Moscow. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

              FILE - Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov arrives for security talks with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman at the United States Mission in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 10, 2022. A senior Russian diplomat says that Russia and the United States have repeatedly come close to reaching agreement on a prisoner exchange and a deal remains possible before the year's end. The Biden administration long has been trying to negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American jailed in Russia, corporate security executive Paul Whelan, including through a possible prisoner swap with Moscow. (Denis Balibouse/Pool via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov attends the talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. A senior Russian diplomat says that Russia and the United States have repeatedly come close to reaching agreement on a prisoner exchange and a deal remains possible before the year's end. The Biden administration long has been trying to negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American jailed in Russia, corporate security executive Paul Whelan, including through a possible prisoner swap with Moscow. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine who was arrested for alleged spying, listens to the verdict in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, June 15, 2020. A senior Russian diplomat says that Russia and the United States have repeatedly come close to reaching agreement on a prisoner exchange and a deal remains possible before the year's end. The Biden administration long has been trying to negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American jailed in Russia, corporate security executive Paul Whelan, including through a possible prisoner swap with Moscow. (Sofia Sandurskaya, Moscow News Agency photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a courtroom after a hearing in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 4, 2022. A senior Russian diplomat says that Russia and the United States have repeatedly come close to reaching agreement on a prisoner exchange and a deal remains possible before the year's end. The Biden administration long has been trying to negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American jailed in Russia, corporate security executive Paul Whelan, including through a possible prisoner swap with Moscow. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia and the United States have repeatedly been on the verge of agreement on a prisoner exchange, a senior Russian diplomat said Tuesday, adding that a deal is still possible before the year’s end.

The Biden administration has been trying for months to negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American jailed in Russia, Michigan corporate security executive Paul Whelan, including through a possible prisoner swap with Moscow.

Asked by reporters whether a swap is possible before the year’s end, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, responded: “There always is a chance.”

“Regrettably, there have been a few occasions when it seemed that a decision in favor of it was about to be made, but it never happened,” Ryabkov said without elaborating.

He added that the Russian Foreign Ministry was not currently engaged in any dialogue on the subject with the U.S., “so we aren’t feeling full dynamics.”

Ryabkov noted that a prisoner swap “would undoubtedly send a positive signal that not everything is so utterly hopeless in Russian-U.S. relations.” “Such a signal would be appropriate, if we could work it out,” he added.

The Russian diplomat reiterated Moscow’s call for the U.S. to discuss the issue discreetly and refrain from making public statements. He lamented that “Washington has been abusing ‘loudspeaker diplomacy’ instead of a quiet one, which didn’t help us to do business.”

Earlier this month, Griner began serving a nine-year sentence for drug possession at a Russian penal colony in Mordovia, about 350 kilometers (210 miles) east of Moscow, after a Russian court had rejected her appeal of her August conviction.

The all-star center with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medal winner was detained in February when customs agents said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

At her trial, Griner admitted to having the canisters in her luggage but testified she packed them inadvertently in her haste to make her flight and had no criminal intent. Her defense team presented written statements saying she had been prescribed cannabis to treat chronic pain.

Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia after being convicted on espionage charges that he denied.

His brother David said Tuesday that officials at the prison colony where Whelan is held said he was moved to the prison hospital on November 17. David Whelan questioned the reason for the transfer, saying his brother had not complained of any health conditions that required hospitalization and appeared healthy and well to the U.S. Embassy staff who visited him.

He also wondered why Whelan wan’t allowed to make phone calls from the hospital and expressed concern he either may have an emergency medical issue that was not being disclosed or in fact had been placed in solitary confinement by prison authorities.

The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Washington has offered to exchange Griner and Whelan for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the U.S. and once earned the nickname the “merchant of death.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Large advertisements adorn buildings and electronic billboards leading up to the NFL Super Bowl LVI...
Associated Press

Fox sells out Super Bowl ads: crypto out, alcohol in

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox says it has sold out all of its Super Bowl LVII ad space as of the end of January. The big game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles takes place on Sunday. The Super Bowl is advertising’s biggest stage, with advertisers jockeying to get their products in […]
1 day ago
Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, left, in action against Mallorca's goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic durin...
Associated Press

Vinícius Júnior again targeted by racist insults in Spain

MADRID (AP) — The hate attacks against Vinícius Júnior continued in Spain over the weekend, with the Brazil forward again being targeted by racist insults in a league match. The Spanish league said Monday it will investigate the latest attacks after television images showed someone calling him a monkey during Real Madrid’s 1-0 loss at […]
1 day ago
Italy's Federica Brignone speeds down the course during the super G portion of an alpine ski, women...
Associated Press

Brignone leads combined race at worlds; Shiffrin 0.96 behind

MERIBEL, France (AP) — Italian skier Federica Brignone posted the fastest time in the super-G portion of the women’s combined event Monday on the opening day of the world championships, leading defending champion Mikaela Shiffrin by almost a second. Racing under blue skies, Brignone found the fastest line on the Roc de Fer course as […]
1 day ago
FILE - Fans welcome Manchester City players before the start of the English Premier League soccer m...
Associated Press

Man City accused of misleading Premier League over finances

Manchester City was accused by the Premier League on Monday of providing misleading information about its finances over a nine-year period when the club was attempting to establish itself as a force in English and European soccer following its takeover by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family. The explosive development came at the end of a four-year […]
1 day ago
Field hockey players of a local club attend a training session, in Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. ...
Associated Press

Sports pitch for level playing field in cricket-mad Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (AP) — On Islamabad’s outskirts, burly men bind together in a scrum on a rugby pitch that has seen better days. The sign bearing the club’s name is worn. The floodlights are too costly to use, given high electricity prices and the paltry $135 total that the club earns in membership fees every month. […]
1 day ago
NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. (19) poses for a photo with the championship trophy after...
Associated Press

Truex wins NASCAR’s sloppy return to Los Angeles Coliseum

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. won NASCAR’s return to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for its season-opening exhibition race — a sloppy Sunday night extravaganza in which the Wiz Khalifa halftime show might have been the most entertaining part of the event. Truex took the lead with 25 laps to go in the […]
1 day ago
Russian diplomat says prisoner swap with US remains possible