The Biden administration is said to still be "actively" working to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and jailed American Paul Whelan, both of whom are classified as wrongfully detained in Russia.
On Sunday's (December 4) edition of CBS' Face the Nation, Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized that the U.S. is working "almost every day" to appeal to the Russians and bring Griner and Whelan home, HuffPost reports. He reiterated the "substantial" proposal that the administration had put on the table earlier this year.
“We did put a significant proposal on the table many months ago,” Blinken said Sunday. “And since then, we’ve been engaged repeatedly, in any way that we can, to try to advance it and to look to see if there are different permutations that could achieve what we’re trying to achieve, which is to get our people home.”
“We will not stop until we do,” he added.
Blinken noted that negotiations to free Griner and Whelan are a two-way street between the U.S. and Russia.
“The other side gets a vote in this. It’s not just what we want. It’s what they’re prepared to do,” he said.
Griner was first detained in Russia on February 17, when authorities found cannabis oil in her bag at a Moscow airport. She plead guilty to drug charges and was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison. The WNBA star was transferred last month to a Russian penal colony, where she is serving her sentence amid negotiations.
CNN previously reported that the "substantial" proposal put forth by the U.S. included exchanging Griner and Whelan for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. Blinken has yet to confirm reports of the possible prison swap.
“The proof will be in the pudding,” Blinken said Sunday. “We are not resting on the laurels of having put forward a proposal some months ago, we’ve been actively engaged over these many months to try to move things forward.”