• President Joe Biden called on Russia to release Brittney Griner from prison immediately. 
  • Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison Thursday for drug smuggling charges. 
  • Biden has proposed a prisoner swap to free Griner early but Russia has yet to officially respond. 

President Joe Biden called on Russia to "release her immediately" after WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison on drug-smuggling charges for carrying vape cartridges in her luggage at a Moscow airport. 

"Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney," Biden said in a statement shared Thursday. 

"It's unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates," he continued. "My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible." 

The Biden Administration has offered to swap convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout for the early release of both Griner and Whelan, another American detainee.

Russia has yet to officially respond but has suggested that they are interested in the swap if the US helps to free an additional convict — a Russian national who was tried, sentenced, and imprisoned for murder in Germany.

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