The United States government on Wednesday made public what everybody had suspected for months

 The United States government on Wednesday made public what everybody had suspected for months


The United States government on Wednesday made public what everybody had suspected for months: it was negotiating a deal with Russia to free WNBA star Brittney Griner. 


Reactions from experts in hostage negotiation were split. Publicizing deals to free Americans sets bad precedent and endangers Americans, some say. Others believe previous examples of such exchanges demonstrate it's the only way to safely return wrongly detained prisone.

The State Department has determined that Griner has been "wrongfully detained" by Moscow.


Officially, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. made a "substantial proposal" to the Kremlin "weeks ago" but offered no specifics. It was the first public acknowledgement that the highest levels of diplomatic relations were working to bring the WNBA star home. Any agreement would involve a prisoner swap with Russia or concessions on recent economic sanctions, and CNN reported shortly before Blinken's announcement that the U.S. had offered notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor BoutThe government taking the public behind the curtains was somewhat surprising, said Dani Gilbert, a Rosenwald Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy and International Security at the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College. 


"It doesn’t necessarily portend good news in the negotiation to make that kind of announcement," Gilbert told USA TODAY Sports


Russia did not want the same openness on the negotiations compared to the United States

We know that such issues are discussed without any such release of information," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a conference call. "Normally, the public learns about it when the agreements are already implemented."


The deal being on the table for weeks signaled to Gilbert that "the Russians refuse to take yes for an answer." She also noted Russia is unlikely to accept any deal before Griner's trial ends, which her lawyers predict will occur sometime in August. Griner plead guilty "without intent" earlier this month; the two-time Olympic gold medalist testified Wednesday she accidentally packed vape cartridges filled with cannabisThey've wanted Viktor Bout for a long time," said Gilbert. "They got an offer for Viktor Bout. They didn’t take it." 


Who is Viktor BoutS ome critics described the trade as dangerously misguided


“It is a shame that this administration cannot differentiate between compassion and naivete in conducting such ill-fated barters as that being offered for Viktor Bout,” said Rob Zachariasiewicz, one of the Drug Enforcement Administration agents behind the operation that led to Bout's 2008 arrest in Thailand..? 

The United States government on Wednesday made public what everybody had suspected for months

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