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14 Dec

Brittney Griner Released From Prison After U.S. And Russia

Brittney Griner Released From Prison

Brittney Griner Released From Prison After U.S.


Brittney Griner Released From Prison After U.S. WNBA star Brittney Griner has been released from prison in Russia, President Joe Biden said Thursday.

The basketball star was arrested in February at a Moscow-area airport while in possession of vaping cartridges infused with cannabis oil, an illegal substance in Russia.

Griner pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a nine-year prison term in early August. She was moved to a penal colony in mid-November after losing her appeal. On Thursday, Griner was freed in a prisoner exchange for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, based on ABC News.

Biden spoke with Griner by phone and confirmed that she was on her way home.

“She’s protected, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” Biden said from the White House Thursday morning alongside Vice President Kamala Harris and Griner’s wife, Cherelle. “After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back within the arms of her family members, and she or he must have been there all along.”

Biden said efforts to bring Griner home took “painstaking and intense negotiations” and expressed his gratitude to his administration.

“It is a day we’ve worked toward for a very long time. We never stopped pushing for her release,” he said.

The president acknowledged that Griner’s release was happening while one other American, Paul Whelan, remained behind bars.

“This was not a selection of which American to bring home,” Biden said. “Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case in another way than Brittney’s. And while we’ve not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we aren’t giving up. We’ll never quit.”

When asked when Griner would return home, Biden said it might be inside the subsequent “24 hours.”

Brittney Griner Released From Prison After U.S. And Russia Agree To Swap

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 08: Cherelle Griner (C), wife of Olympian and WNBA player Brittney Griner, speaks after U.S. President Joe Biden announced her release of from Russian custody, with Vice President Kamala Harris within the Roosevelt Room on the White House on December 08, 2022 in Washington,

DC. Griner was released as a part of a prisoner swap that involved Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Cherelle Griner expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the administration for assisting in obtaining her wife’s release. “During the last nine months, you’ve got been so aware about one in all the darkest moments of my life,

and so today I’m just standing here overwhelmed with emotions, but an important emotion that I actually have at once is just sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration,” she said.

As Griner makes her way home, her wife says that she and her family remain committed to fighting for those still wrongly held in prison.

“Today, my family is whole. But as you all are aware,” Cherelle Griner added. “There are such a lot of other families who aren’t whole. BG’s not here to say this,

but I’ll gladly speak on her behalf and say that BG and I’ll remain committed to the work on getting every American home, including Paul (Whelan), whose family is in our hearts today, as we rejoice BG being home.”

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