Brittney Griner is coming home.
The WNBA star affectionally known as “BG” has been released from her Russian prison, ending a monthslong nightmare for her and her family.
“Today my family is whole,” said Griner’s wife Cherelle.
President Biden orchestrated the release which involved a prisoner exchange. In the swap, notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout aka “the Merchant of Death” was released and returned to Russia.
According to a Russian news station, the exchange took place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
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“This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time,” President Biden said, noting how these months have been hell on Griner. “We never stopped pushing for her release. It took painstaking and intense negotiations, and I want to thank all the hardworking public servants across my administration who worked tirelessly to secure her release.”
A reminder how this all started, courtesy of ESPN:
Griner was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February when customs officials said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage. She pleaded guilty in July though still faced trial because admitting guilt in Russia’s judicial system does not automatically end a case.
She acknowledged in court that she possessed the canisters but said she had no criminal intent and that their presence in her luggage was due to hasty packing.
In August, Griner had been sentenced to nine years in prison.
Paul Whelan, another American detained in Russian, remains in a Russian prison. Whelan has been jailed for nearly four years.
“We’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan,” Biden said. “We will keep negotiating in good faith for Paul’s release.”