The United States has recovered Brittney Griner from the Russians according to multiple reports. Griner was exchanged for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout and is currently on an airplane headed home after undergoing a medical evaluation in the United Arab Emirates where the exchange ocurred.
BREAKING: Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who was sentenced to prison in Russia, has been freed in a prisoner-swap and is now in US custody, a US official tells @CBSNews.
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) December 8, 2022
This is fantastic news for Griner’s family and teammates. Unfortunately, former marine Paul Whalen was not included in the exchange. He’s been in Russian custody for four years.
President Biden spoke publicly from the White House on Thursday morning joined by Brittney’s wife Cherelle . Biden reported Griner is in good spirits after the prisoner exchange. He went on to say the Russians are treating Paul Whalen’s case differently and guaranteed to continue to negotiate for his release.
Cherelle Griner expressed her gratitude to President Biden and the administration for their efforts. “Today my family is whole,” Cherelle added. She went on to commit on Brittney’s behalf to fight for the release of Paul Whalen.
Griner was detained by customs and border officials at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport on Feburary 17, 2022. In her possession were vaporizer cartridges containing a total of 0.702 grams of hash oil, which was originally prescribed for her legally in Arizona — but which are illegal in Russia.
After her appeal was denied in July, Griner was sentenced to nine years and recently moved to a horrific penal colony where conditions are described as torturous according to former inmates.
This is a breaking story and will be updated with additional information as it is available.