According to President Joe Biden, WNBA star Brittney Griner has been released from Russian custody.
According to a source familiar with the situation who spoke to CNN, Griner was freed as part of a prisoner swap involving Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Paul Whelan, another American who the State Department has deemed to have been illegally detained, was not included in the exchange.
Alongside Griner's wife, Cherelle, Biden made the announcement at the White House on Thursday morning: "She's safe, she's on a plane, and she's on her way home." "Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along," said a source after months of being wrongfully jailed in Russia and held under awful conditions.
Biden stated, "This was not a choice of which American to bring home. "Unfortunately, Russia is handling Paul's case differently than Brittney's for completely unjustified reasons. And although if we have not yet been successful in getting Paul's release, we will keep trying. Never will we give up,
Griner's detention in Russia in February set up a diplomatic drama involving the US and the Kremlin that played out in tandem with Russia's conflict in Ukraine. US diplomats maintained open lines of communication with Moscow for prisoner discussions while the US adopted crippling sanctions in reaction to the Ukraine war in an effort to secure the release of of both Griner and Whelan.
Brittney Griner: What Happen
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained at a Moscow airport after marijuana oil vape cartridges which are illegal in Russia were discovered in her luggage. Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist was detained at a Moscow airport after marijuana oil vape cartridges, which are illegal in Russia were discovered in her luggage. On August 4 she was given a nine-year prison term for possession and trafficking. She admitted guilt but she said it was a "honest mistake" and that she had not intended to breach the law.
She was transferred to a correctional colony in the Mordovian region of Russia last month to complete her prison term.
Who is Viktor Bout
Bout, 55, was among the most sought men in the world before his capture and has been variously labeled "the merchant of death" and "the sanctions buster" for his capacity to get through arms embargos.
Bout rose to prominence as the world's most infamous arms trader for almost two decades, supplying weapons to rogue nations, rebel forces, and ruthless warlords in Africa, Asia, and South America. Moscow's continued interest in Bout is a significant indicator of Russian intelligence ties, according to specialists on the Russian security services.
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