Brittney Griner is on her way home!
Russia has freed the WNBA star in a high-level prisoner exchange for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, also known as the “Merchant of Death.”
President Joe Biden took to Twitter writing:
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home.
The post included photos of himself, VP Kamala Harris, and Brittney’s wife, Cherelle Griner, in the Oval Office bursting with joy.
Brittney Griner’s release comes just over a month after a Russian court rejected the appeal of her nine-year prison sentence for drug possession and smuggling drugs with criminal intent.
The White House confirmed the United States offered Russia a deal aimed at securing the release of Brittney and ex-marine Paul Whelan.
Paul Whelan, a corporate security executive from Michigan, was arrested on espionage charges and sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020.
For years, Russia has had a vested interest in the release of Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer, who was once labeled the “Merchant of Death.”
Bout was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2021 on charges that he schemed to illegally sell millions of dollars in weapons.
While the news of Brittney’s release is wonderful, my heart can’t help but hurt for Paul’s family, who were hopeful of his return as well.
Cherrelle Griner said she and Brittney will “remain committed” to helping bring home every American including Paul.
The Whelan family released the following statement:
There is no greater success than for a wrongful detainee to be freed & for them to go home.
The Biden Admin made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, & to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to.
ESPN reports Griner’s arrest in February made her the most high-profile American jailed abroad. Her status as an openly gay Black woman, locked up in a country where authorities have been hostile to the LGBTQ community, infused racial, gender, and social dynamics into her legal saga and made each development a matter of international importance.
Her case not only brought unprecedented publicity to the dozens of Americans wrongfully detained by foreign governments, but it also emerged as a major inflection point in U.S.-Russia diplomacy at a time of deteriorating relations prompted by Moscow’s war against Ukraine.
Twitter is rejoicing as the news of Brittney Griner’s release spread like wildfire.
Welcome home, Brittney Griner.