May 30, 2023

“Regarding the people convicted in Russia and the United States… there is a specific channel that has been agreed upon by [Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden]and no matter what anyone says publicly, this channel will remain in place,” Lavrov was quoted as saying at a news conference in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh on Friday.

“We are ready to discuss this issue, but within the channel agreed by the presidents,” Lavrov added.

His comments come a day after American basketball star Brittney Griner was convicted of intentionally smuggling drugs into Russia and sentenced to nine years in prison, in a case that has raised concerns that she is being used as a political pawn in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

During the trial, Griner pleaded guilty to carrying less than 1 gram of cannabis oil in her luggage as she traveled through a Moscow airport on February 17. He testified in court that he was aware of Russia’s strict drug laws and had no intention of bringing cannabis into the country, saying he was in a hurry and “to relieve stress”.

Before the verdict, Griner apologized to the court and asked for leniency in an emotional speech.

“I never intended to harm anyone, I never intended to endanger the Russian population, I never intended to break any laws here,” Griner said.

“I made an honest mistake and I hope with your decision that my life won’t end here. I know everyone keeps talking about political pawns and politics, but I hope that’s far away from this courtroom.”

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