Brittney Griner Goes Free in Prisoner Swap

Brittney Griner Freed in Prisoner Swap

( – The United States brokered a deal with Moscow for the release of basketball player Brittney Griner. Authorities traded the WNBA star for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout on December 8. President Joe Biden made remarks on her release with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, in attendance at the White House.

Biden said he spoke with the basketballer by phone and noted she was doing well. He stated she would be home within 24 hours. The president detailed how difficult the release was to secure and talked about the injustice of her situation. He said Griner “represents the best about America” and promised to continue to work to bring home other wrongfully held detainees.

Griner had been in Russia since February 17, when authorities arrested her for possessing a cannabis vape cartridge. A court sentenced her to nine years of imprisonment for drug crimes on August 4; she appealed the ruling but received a denial on October 25. The WNBA star had been in a penal colony since early November. By December 9, she was back in the US, and it’s reported that she’s currently at a medical center in Texas undergoing a prison reintegration program to help her get back to life.

Her release came at a price. The US had to give up Viktor Bout, who earned the nickname “Merchant of Death” for his international arms trade ties. Renowned for selling guns to anyone who had money, Bout traded weapons to some of the world’s worst terrorists and regimes. The movie “Lord of War” was loosely based on Bout’s life.

He worked as a weapons dealer from the early 1990s until his arrest in 2008. The US sentenced him to 25 years behind bars in 2012, but Moscow maintained he was innocent and pushed for his release, so he ultimately became the prisoner swapped for Griner.

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