Brittney Griner meets with US officials after White House makes ‘significant offer’ to Russia

Brittney Griner is brought from a Russian court room surrounded by armed guards.

WNBA star Brittney Griner, who has been imprisoned in Russia for 260 days, has reportedly met with US embassy officials.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed on Thursday (3 November) that the basketball player had met with embassy officials as part of negotiations for her release.

Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony after she was detained by Khmki airport security for possession of hashish oil, which is illegal in the country.

Since her imprisonment, a mass campaign by various humanities groups and fellow WNBA players has urged the US government to bring her home.

Jean-Pierre said during the statement that the government had “made a significant offer to the Russians to resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful detentions of American citizens Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.”

Paul Whelan is a former US Marine who was arrested in 2018 on accusations of spying. He received a 16-year prison sentence in 2020.

“[the US] has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with Russians through all available channels,” she added. “This continues to be a top priority.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during a daily news briefing.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during a daily news briefing. (Getty)

State secretary Antony Blinken said in July that the White House had begun negotiations over the possible exchange of convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout as part of a deal to bring Griner home.

But negotiations seemed to have hit a stand-still for several months, making it unclear as to whether the current offer involves Bout’s release.

The Kremlin had previously said negotiations surrounding Griner’s release are not a priority, with Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov saying: “It’s not the main issue that we are concerned about.

“In this tense situation, I think that [Joe Biden] is thinking first and foremost about the upcoming midterm elections, Ushakov continued. “So he keeps emphasising the need to bring [Brittney Griner] back home.”

Brittney Griner is reportedly struggling in prison

Jean-Pierre added that the White House was told: “She’s doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances.”

Her lawyer, Alexander Boykov, said to The New York Times in October that she hasn’t been “in good condition” and that she “is not yet absolutely convinced that America will be able to take her home.

Additionally, the basketball player’s wife, Cherelle Griner, has said she is “100 per cent not okay,” and said there’s “little [she] can do to ease [Brittney’s] pain.

“I believe from the bottom of my heart that while I can’t bring her back, words can make a difference.”

As well as spearheading the campaign to bring her wife home, Cherelle has also spoken with president Joe Biden to discuss how best to bring the WNBA star home.

She met with the president in September, saying in an Instagram post that “I look forward to the day my wife is back home.”