(CNN)Russia is ready to discuss an exchange of prisoners with the United States through a diplomatic channel agreed upon by both countries, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

“On the matter of persons who are convicted in Russia and in the United States … there is a specified channel that has been agreed upon by [Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden], and no matter what anyone says publicly, this channel will remain in effect,” Lavrov reportedly said at a news conference in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh on Friday.

His comments come one day after American women’s basketball star Brittney Griner was convicted of deliberately smuggling drugs into Russia and sentenced to nine years of jail time, in a case that has raised concerns 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. She testified in court that she was aware of Russia’s strict drug laws and had no intention of bringing cannabis into the country, saying she was in a rush and “stress packing.”

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

“I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner said.

“I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that, that is far from this courtroom.”