Brittney Griner freed in prisoner swap, is in US custody [UPDATED]

After 294 days in Russian custody, US officials have secured the release of Brittney Griner in a 1-for-1 prisoner swap.

Held by Russian authorities since Feb. 17, 2022, WNBA star Brittney Griner is finally on her way home. This morning, Steve Portnoy of CBS broke the news that an agreement had been reached with Russia and that Griner was currently in US custody.

How did US authorities secure the release of Brittney Griner?

According to the report by CBS News, the US has agreed to release convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner. Bout was convicted in 2011 of conspiring to kill US officials and smuggling weapons to FARC guerrillas in Colombia.

Bout has been mentioned previously as a prisoner swap option for Griner, who was arrested for possession of hash oil cartridges for a vape pen and sentenced to nine years in prison. Griner had been in Russia playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason. In November, she had been moved to a Russian penal colony, “known for the harsh regimes and human rights violations.”

What’s next for Brittney Griner?

The phrasing of the reports indicate that US officials have custody of Griner but she has probably not returned to US soil yet. President Biden is expected to address the media today and we may learn more details then.

The We Are BG campaign has been working actively for months to keep Griner’s plight in the minds of US citizens and elected officials and keep pressure high to try and bring her home. The campaign has been supported by thousands of people, including many NBA and WNBA stars. Here’s hoping she is able to get back to her family and friends as soon as possible.

This story will be updated as more details become available.

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