WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — With midterm elections in the rearview mirror, U.S. leaders are hopeful they can bring Brittney Griner home.
The basketball star was arrested for drug possession at a Russian airport in February and later sentenced to 9 years in prison. Her lawyers say she is serving that sentence inside of a Russian labor camp.
U.S. officials have accused Russia of using her as a political pawn and have been trying to negotiate her release.
“She is being held unjustly. She should be released immediately,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.
President Biden says he is thinking about Griner with renewed optimism.
“My hope is that now that the election is over, that Mr. Putin will be able to discuss with us and be willing to talk more seriously about prisoner exchange,” Biden said.
Sullivan says despite the U.S. making multiple offers to secure Griner’s release, Russia hasn’t agreed to anything.
“So far the Russians have not shown a willingness to engage in that back and forth to produce a result,” Sullivan said.
Leaders are being tight-lipped about the details of those negotiations because they say they don’t want to jeopardize any chance of reaching a deal.
“I can’t handicap it. I can’t give you any predictions,” Sullivan said.
Even though work is being done behind the scenes, President Biden says his administration will not give up.
“I am determined to get her home and get her home safely,” Biden said.
Griner’s team is putting their trust in U.S. officials, saying they’re “thankful for everyone’s support” as they hold out hope she’s returned in time for the Holidays.