Brittney Griner Wiki-Brittney Griner Biography

Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who was held for months in Russian prisons on drug charges, was released Thursday in a one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout, ending an ordeal that sparked intense high-level negotiations. between the United States and the Kremlin to secure her freedom.

“She’s safe. She’s on a plane,” President Biden said at the White House, announcing the exchange. “She’s on her way home. After months of being wrongfully detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones and she should have been there the whole time. This is a day for the that we’ve worked for a long time. We never stop pushing for her to be released.”

Brittney Griner Age

CBS News was first to report on the exchange, which took place in the United Arab Emirates, citing a US official. The swap deal negotiated with Moscow in recent weeks received final approval from Biden just last week, according to sources familiar with the deal.


Five former US officials told CBS News that the deal had been reached last Thursday.

The president said he spoke to Griner by phone from the Oval Office, where he was joined by Griner’s wife, Cherelle, Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Under standard procedure for released American prisoners, Griner was expected to quickly undergo a medical evaluation.

Mr Biden said he was “glad to say that Brittney is in a good mood” and that she was looking forward to getting home. The president dismissed the “show trial in Russia” that landed her in prison, saying she “did not ask for special treatment.”


To secure Griner’s release, the president ordered that Bout be released and returned to Russia. Mr. Biden signed the commutation order shortening Bout’s 25-year federal prison sentence.

Most notably, the Griner-for-Bout swap leaves retired US Marine Paul Whelan jailed in Russia. Whelan has been in Russian custody for almost four years. He was convicted on espionage charges that the United States dismissed as trumped up.

“We have not forgotten about Paul Whelan,” Biden said Thursday, adding that “we will never give up” on securing his release. US officials told reporters that it became clear in talks with the Russians that the prospect of securing the release of Griner and Whelan in exchange for Bout was not a start, with one saying the US had “a choice between bringing home to one American in particular: Brittney Griner, or bring home none.”


Whelan told CNN in a phone call Thursday that he was happy Griner was free, but said he was “very disappointed that more hasn’t been done to secure my release, especially as the fourth anniversary of my arrest approaches.” .

Griner, a 32-year-old star for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, was detained at a Russian airport in February and later pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the discovery of cartridges of cannabis-derived oil in her luggage. Griner said he did not intend to take the cartridges with her when she traveled to the country to play in a Russian basketball league during the WNBA offseason.

After five months of stalled diplomacy and various permutations of potential swap deals, including a previously unreported offer by the US last summer to send two prisoners back to Russia for the two Americans, sources say that the one-for-one trade came to fruition over the past two weeks.


Whelan, who once worked as a corporate security contractor, was in Moscow for a friend’s wedding when he was detained at a hotel in December 2018. Russian authorities later sentenced him to 16 years in prison for espionage, a charge the United States United and Whelan denied. This month marks the fourth anniversary of Whelan’s time in Russian custody.

Bout, who was recently held in a federal prison in Marion, Illinois, was arrested by Thailand’s Drug Enforcement Agency following a sting operation in 2008. He was found guilty of conspiring to kill Americans and began his 25-year sentence. a decade ago. .

Griner’s arrest coincided with the start of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February, and all of America’s dealings with the Kremlin have been complicated by that conflict. The United States has said that both Griner and Whelan were “wrongfully detained” and officials suspect that Russia has been using the American prisoners as leverage.


Griner’s return for Bout marks the Biden administration’s second prisoner exchange with Russia. In April, the US exchanged Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian smuggler convicted of conspiring to import cocaine, for Trevor Reed, a former US Marine who had been jailed in Russia for nearly three years.

CBS News learned last Thursday that the Griner-for-Bout trade was in the offing, but agreed to a White House request to suspend the report because officials expressed serious concern about the fragility of the emerging deal.

Biden administration officials warned that making the trade details public beforehand would almost certainly lead Russia to withdraw from the deal and could jeopardize Griner’s well-being.


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