Brittney Griner back on U.S. soil after being released from Russian custody in prisoner swap for Viktor Bout


WNBA star Brittney Griner landed Friday at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas, after being released from a Russian penitentiary in a one-for-one prisoner swap for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout. Greener was sentenced to nine years in prison on drug charges in August.

The exchange took place on Thursday in the United Arab Emirates after President Biden gave final approval to the exchange after weeks of negotiations. According to CBS NewsThe United States and Russia agreed to the exchange on December 1.

The White House confirmed the exchange on Twitter and added that Griner spoke to Biden by phone on Thursday.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby did not comment on Greener’s medical condition to respect her privacy, but she will be taken to a medical facility in San Antonio for a medical evaluation, reportedly. CNBC. There she will be met by her wife Sherel Griner.

Speaking at the White House shortly after speaking with Greener, Biden said he was “glad to be able to say Britney is in a good mood.”

Griner has been in Russian custody since being detained on February 17 at Sheremetyevo International Airport when the Russian Federal Customs Service found vape cartridges containing marijuana concentrate, hash oil, in her luggage. In August, she was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison after a Russian court found her guilty of drug possession.

The Greener Booth swap does mean that retired US Marine Paul Whelan is still incarcerated in Russia. Whelan’s name was mentioned in potential exchanges, including Griner and Booth, earlier this year. Whelan has been in Russian custody for almost four years after his convicted of espionage which the US called false.

“We haven’t forgotten about Paul Whelan,” Biden said Thursday, noting that “we will never give up” after his release.

According to CNNthe Biden administration “repeatedly made offers to get Whelan as part of this deal – even after Russia made it clear that only Griner was acceptable.”

“It was a choice: get Britney or nothing,” a US spokesperson told CNN.

Booth, also known as the “Merchant of Death”, was most recently held in an Illinois federal prison. He was arrested by the US Drug Enforcement Administration back in 2008 during a sting operation in Thailand. He was then found guilty of planning to kill Americans and sentenced to 25 years in prison, a sentence he began serving 10 years ago.