Estados Unidos propone intercambiar prisioneros con Rusia

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Washington — 

Estados Unidos dijo el miércoles que hizo una “propuesta sustancial” a Rusia, que personas familiarizadas con el asunto describieron como un intercambio de prisioneros que enviaría al traficante de armas ruso condenado Viktor Bout de regreso a Moscú para asegurar la liberación de la estrella estadounidense de baloncesto profesional Brittney Griner y al acusado de espionaje Paul Whelan.

La propuesta se hizo hace varias semanas, en junio, aunque hasta la fecha no ha surgido nada, incluso cuando funcionarios de los dos gobiernos la han discutido. Pero el secretario de Estado de EEUU, Antony Blinken, aunque se negó a discutir los detalles del posible acuerdo, dijo a los periodistas en Washington que espera plantear el tema una vez más esta semana en una llamada telefónica con su homólogo, el ministro de Relaciones Exteriores de Rusia, Sergey Lavrov.

La noticia de un posible intercambio de prisioneros llegó el mismo día en que Griner, quien admitió haber llegado a Rusia en febrero con latas de vaporizador que contenían aceite de cannabis en su equipaje, testificó en una audiencia judicial en la que un intérprete le proporcionó una traducción de solo una fracción de lo que estaba diciendo mientras las autoridades la arrestaban.

Griner, que enfrenta hasta 10 años de prisión si es declarada culpable de transportar drogas, dijo que los funcionarios le ordenaron que firmara documentos en el aeropuerto de Moscú sin que le dieran una explicación de lo que estaba reconociendo. Un tribunal ruso autorizó su detención hasta el 20 de diciembre.

Whelan, un ex marine de EEUU, ha estado encarcelado en Rusia por presunto espionaje desde 2018, con su familia y la de Griner rogándole a la Casa Blanca que acelere los esfuerzos para obtener su liberación.

Durante años, Rusia ha buscado la liberación de Bout, un traficante de armas que una vez fue etiquetado como el "mercader de la muerte". Fue sentenciado a 25 años de prisión en 2012 luego de su condena en un plan para vender ilegalmente millones de dólares en armas.

El posible intercambio de prisioneros fue aprobado por el presidente de EEUU, Joe Biden, informó CNN, y el apoyo de Biden superó la oposición del Departamento de Justicia, que generalmente está en contra de los intercambios de prisioneros por temor a que incentiven a otros gobiernos a capturar estadounidenses en el extranjero con la esperanza de acuerdos de intercambio de prisioneros suyos.

En la Casa Blanca, el portavoz del Consejo de Seguridad Nacional, John Kirby, se negó a dar detalles de las negociaciones con Rusia en un momento en que Estados Unidos ha liderado la oposición mundial a la invasión rusa de Ucrania en febrero.

“Pero diré que el presidente y su equipo están dispuestos a tomar medidas extraordinarias para traer a nuestra gente a casa, como lo demostramos con Trevor Reed, y eso es lo que estamos haciendo aquí”, dijo Kirby. “Está sucediendo activamente ahora. Esto ha sido lo más importante para el presidente y para todo su equipo de seguridad nacional”.

Estados Unidos aseguró la liberación de Reed en abril. Era un exmarine que estuvo cautivo en Rusia durante más de dos años después de haber sido acusado de agredir a un oficial de policía ruso. Fue cambiado por Konstantin Yaroshenko, un piloto ruso que cumplía una sentencia de prisión federal de 20 años por una conspiración de contrabando de cocaína.

En la sexta sesión de su lento juicio, Griner testificó el miércoles que no tenía intenciones criminales de llevar el aceite de cannabis a Rusia. Ella dijo que todavía no sabe cómo el aceite de cannabis para el que tenía la recomendación de un médico terminó en su equipaje.

Explicó que había empacado a toda prisa para el vuelo de 13 horas de EEUU a Rusia, donde planeaba jugar durante la temporada baja de la Asociación Nacional de Baloncesto Femenino.

Griner dijo que no le ofrecieron una explicación de sus derechos mientras estaba detenida ni acceso a abogados para explicar los documentos que firmó.

Durante una sesión judicial del martes, un neuropsicólogo ruso testificó sobre el uso mundial del cannabis medicinal, pero la droga sigue siendo ilegal en Rusia. Los abogados de Griner han presentado una carta de un médico de EEUU recomendando que use cannabis medicinal para tratar el dolor, que dice que ha sufrido durante su carrera en el baloncesto.

Griner testificó el miércoles que el aceite de cannabis se usa mucho en Estados Unidos con fines medicinales y tiene menos efectos negativos que otros analgésicos.

Pero un portavoz del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Rusia dijo la semana pasada que la legalización del cannabis para uso médico y recreativo en partes de EEUU no influyó en lo que sucede en Rusia.

[Parte del material de este informe provino de The Associated Press y Reuters]

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