Conservative radio host Dana Loesch imagines other Americans locked up in Russian prisons could get the attention they deserve from the Biden administration if they were “as anti-American as Brittney Griner.”
The host’s comments come following news that Griner was released in exchange for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer convicted in 2011 for conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and officials, delivery of anti-aircraft missiles, and providing aid to a terrorist organization.
Bout has earned the nickname, “The Merchant of Death.”
Loesch contends that Griner’s release and the urgency behind the administration’s efforts to secure it were amplified because she was sufficiently “anti-American.”
“I don’t know … maybe if those Americans that are imprisoned in jail over there in Russia, maybe if they were as anti-American as Brittney Griner has been, maybe they’d had been released a hell of a lot quicker,” said Loesch.
“Who knows? Unbelievable.”
Criticism of Brittney Griner as anti-American stems from her protests against the national anthem. The WNBA player and her teammates had walked off the court before the playing of the national anthem two years ago.
During that time, Griner also disparaged the national anthem saying it has “no place” in sports.
“I’m not going to be out there for the national anthem,” she said. “If the league continues to want to play it, that’s fine. It will be all season long, I’ll not be out there.”
“It’s not played at Walmart. It’s not played when you go to Six Flags,” she said. “Why is it played before sporting events?”
Griner added that she didn’t “mean that in any disrespect to our country.”
Criticism of the trade of Bout with Griner has cropped up in the form of what the Biden administration wasn’t able to secure – namely the release of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.
Whelan has been detained in Russia since 2018 after authorities alleged he was involved in an intelligence operation. He was convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison in a trial that has been described as a “sham.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed this past summer that Whelan was initially part of the trade offer for Bout. It was reported that President Biden was “directly involved in the negotiations” at the time.
Instead of securing Whelan’s release, the administration caved and instead committed to a Griner-Bout one-for-one trade, leaving the former Marine to languish in a Russian prison.
Whelan expressed disappointment that he wasn’t part of the trade.
“I am greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release, especially as the four-year anniversary of my arrest is coming up,” he told CNN.
“I was arrested for a crime that never occurred. I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here.”
Former President Donald Trump slammed the proposed trade when it first was reported publicly.
“We’re supposed to get her out for an absolute killer and one of the biggest arms dealers in the world. Killed many Americans. Killed many people,” he lamented. “And he’s gonna get a free card and we’re gonna get her.”
“He’s absolutely one of the worst in the world, and he’s gonna be given his freedom because a potentially spoiled person goes into Russia loaded up with drugs.”
Griner’s charges stemmed from authorities finding two vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage in February.
Trump, in a recent post on his Truth Social media platform, concurred with Loesch’s angle on anti-Americanism.
“What kind of a deal is it to swap Brittney Griner, a basketball player who openly hates our country, for the man known as ‘The Merchant of Death’? he asked.
“What a stupid and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA!”
“If you’re going to break the law abroad you better be a left-wing celebrity,” Loesch said.
Biden insists that “we are not giving up” on getting Whelan released.
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