American basketball player Brittney Griner was released from a Russian prison in a 1-for-1 prisoner swap with convicted international arms dealer Viktor Bout, U.S. authorities said.
On Thursday, December 8, the former Soviet military translator and the WNBA star, who had been detained for several months after Russian officials alleged they had found cannabis oil vape cartridges in her luggage, were both freed in during the swap in the United Arab Emirates.
The agreement surrounding the pair’s respective releases were reportedly weeks in the making, with President Joe Biden formally signing off on the deal last week, per insiders close with the POTUS.
Shortly after news of Griner's release made headlines, the Commander-in-Chief took to Twitter to confirm that the athlete had been released and was on her way back to the United States.
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“Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner,” Biden wrote alongside two photos depicting him and Vice President Kamala Harris speaking with Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner, in the White House. ”She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home."
The president later elaborated on the sports star's well-being, explaining that she was "in good spirits" in a formal statement at his Washington, D.C. residence.
"These past few months have been hell for Brittney," the president explained. "I'm glad to be able to say Brittney is in good spirits. She's relieved to finally be heading home, and the fact remains that she's lost months of her life, experienced a needless trauma. She deserves space, privacy and time with her loved ones to recover and heal from her time being wrongfully detained."
Cherelle thanked the president for his support, saying, "Today my family is whole, but as you are all aware, there are so many other families that are not whole."