Brittney Griner pleads guilty to possible ‘gamble’ to expedite exit from Russia: expert

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Jailed basketball player Britney Greener’s conviction of drug possession could play a role in speeding up the process. her departure from Russiabut it’s a risky gamble that could come with significant downsides, a hostage expert told Fox News Digital.

“I can’t say it’s right or wrong because either way the Russian system … it’s not our system,” said Hugh Dugan, the Trump administration’s acting special envoy for hostage affairs. “But this is a game based on the direction her lawyers advise her.

“To our mind, it’s like it gives her that kind of status where they can do [prisoner] change. “

Greener, who pleaded guilty to drug charges July 7 has been held in Russia since February after Russian authorities said they found hash oil vape cartridges in her luggage.

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The guilty plea does not end the case, but some speculate that it could speed up the process along with Griner’s release from prison. She may qualify for a prisoner exchange between Moscow and Washington, DC.

Dugan explained that, according to the books, Griner was to return to the US and serve her time in an American prison, which he felt would not formally happen if it did.

WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner arrives for a hearing at Khimki Court near Moscow on July 7, 2022.

WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner arrives for a hearing at Khimki Court near Moscow on July 7, 2022.
(Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images)

“With this kind of prisoner exchange, you have to serve your sentences and respect the judgment of each respective country,” he said, adding that he “doubts the Russians will make their guy sit there in jail for another, so many years.

“It would mean that you set up some kind of prison here for the next ten years, at least if it was a bona fide exchange of prisoners in accordance with our consular procedures and agreements with Russia on these issues,” Dugan added. “We haven’t seen this happen to [Trevor] Reed. I didn’t see it happen with any of these arrangements when I played.”

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Rebecca Koffler, President of Doctrine & Strategy Consulting and former DIA Intelligence Officerexplained that most of the details of any transactions will remain outside the public and remain within diplomatic channels.

“They don’t want anything public,” she said. “One thing about the Russian system, which is very different from the American one, is that there is virtually no independent litigation, especially in such high-profile cases.”

WNBA superstar Brittney Griner sits in a defendant's cage during a hearing at the Khimki Court in the city of Khimki outside Moscow on July 15, 2022.

WNBA superstar Brittney Griner sits in a defendant’s cage during a hearing at the Khimki Court in the city of Khimki outside Moscow on July 15, 2022.
(Natalya Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images)

“The Russians say that she was not detained illegally. She had drugs,” Koffler continued. “Essentially, it’s a clash of two legal systems.”

She added that it depends on “what Putin wants.”

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Dugan was worried that by pleading guilty, even if Griner did intend to be eligible for a prisoner exchange and expedite her departure from Moscow – Griner strengthened Russia’s negotiating positions.

Part of the problem arises from Griner’s “confessing” to her criminal activities, which Dugan believes makes it difficult to classify her as a hostage. He noted that it was difficult for officials to defend her status as a “hostage” because she had been in pre-trial proceedings for several months, meaning that her status could more likely be qualified as “wrongfully detained.”

WNBA star and two-time Olympian Brittney Griner is escorted into the courtroom for a hearing in Khimki near Moscow, Russia, June 27, 2022.

WNBA star and two-time Olympian Brittney Griner is escorted into the courtroom for a hearing in Khimki near Moscow, Russia, June 27, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlyanichenko)

“It’s a roll of the dice on what we’re dealing with,” he said, noting that if Griner tries to prove her innocence, Russian courts could set her next hearing in months or even years. “Russia will do whatever it wants anyway… It’s kind of a no-win situation, no matter what.”

And Griner is not the only American woman in Russian custody. Trevor Reed just got homebut Paul Whelan, chief executive of car supplier BorgWarner, remains in prison after he was expelled from the prisoner exchange that brought Reid home.

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The James W. Foley Heritage Foundation, which tracks Americans illegally detained in foreign countries, lists more than 60 US citizens detained in countries including Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and Venezuela . , among other things, reports Reuters.