Prisoner swap deal sees Brittney Griner on a plane home

After months of negotiations, America has secured a prisoner swap with Russia, which sees the release of Brittney Griner from prison. 

Welcome news for Brittney Griners family this morning, as Biden reveals in an official statement from the Whitehouse that the WNBA star will be home for Christmas.

In what can only be described as one of the biggest pawn manoeuvers in history, Russia has agreed to a prisoner swap that sees the release of the basket ball player.

Earlier this year, the Russian court convicted Griner of drug smuggling and sentenced her to serve a nine-year sentence, in the Russian penal colony. President Biden announced this morning, that Griner, who has now been freed from prison, is finally on her way home. 

griner jail sentence russia
Credit: Twitter

In a statement shared from the Whitehouse, standing alongside Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, Biden stated that it was a tireless effort and that everyone worked toward it for a long time.

“She’s safe. She’s on a plane. She’s on her way home after months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable conditions,” 

Biden spoke with Griner from the Oval Office just before breaking the news. He shared that she was in good spirits, but that given the level of “trauma” she had experienced, she would need time to heal.

“Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones and she should have been there all along,” 

Whitehouse officials have stated: “We start by asking ourselves this question: How is it acceptable for someone like Brittney Griner to be put through sham proceedings and forced to spend [time] … in a Russian penal colony, in horrific circumstances that she did not deserve? And we regard that as unacceptable,” 

Russia’s Foreign Ministry confirmed Thursday in a press release that Griner was swapped at the Abu Dhabi airport for convicted Russian arms trader Viktor Bout. “As a result of intense efforts, we managed to agree with the American side on organization of an exchange of Bout for Griner. The Russian citizen has been returned to his homeland.”

The exchange, unfortunately, did not include former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who remains imprisoned in Russia on espionage charges that the U.S. says are false.

President Biden said “While we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We will never give up.”