Biden has announced that Brittney Griner, WNBA star and former prisoner in Russia, has been released.
Biden was speaking alongside Griner and Cherelle Griner in the White House.
“She’s safe. She’s on a flight. She’s flying home after being held for several months in Russia.
Biden spoke briefly with Griner in the Oval Office before making the announcement. He stated that she was in good spirits but was going through “trauma” right now and would need time for healing.
Biden stated that Brittney “will soon be back in her arms with her loved one, and she should not have been there any longer.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry released a statement Thursday confirming that Griner was remanded to Abu Dhabi for Viktor Bout, who was convicted of Russian arms trading.
“We have managed to work together with the American side to organize an exchange of Bout-for-Grinder,” the foreign ministry announced in a statement. “The Russian citizen returned to his homeland.”
Paul Whelan from the U.S. Marine Corps, currently in Russia being held on espionage and other charges that the U.S. has deemed false, was omitted.
Biden declared that although we have not yet succeeded with Paul’s release, he said that they are not giving up. “We will not quit.”
Later, senior administration officials revealed to reporters that Griner’s release was secured in recent days. This agreement came after months and a variety of negotiations.
Whelan was released, but the Russians wouldn’t allow it.
An official stated that it was impossible to choose which American to bring back. It was a choice between Brittney Griner, Brittney Griner, or no American.
Cherelle Griner described being overwhelmed by emotions. She thanked Biden and Vice President Harris for helping her get her wife out of jail. Griner thanked Griner’s Agent, the WNBA, and others.
She stated that BG would continue to support the mission of getting every American home, including Paul.
Biden and his administration considered Griner’s arrest a top priority. They were now under increasing pressure and trying to free Griner. In July, Griner sent him a letter written by her, in which she said that she was scared she might remain here forever.
Last month, Biden stated that he hoped Russian President Vladimir Putin would be more open and willing to negotiate a prisoner swap after the U.S. midterms elections are over.
Griner is a Phoenix Mercury player, a seven-time WNBA All-Star, a second-place Olympic gold medalist, and the first openly-gay athlete to receive an endorsement contract from Nike. She represented Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball league during the WNBA’s offseason.
A Russian court sentenced the woman to nine-years imprisonment last August for less than one gram of hashöl she brought into Russia in February this year when attempting to participate in the Russian women’s pro basketball league. She was transferred 300 miles southwest of Moscow to Mordovia last month to begin her sentence.
Griner admitted that she mistakenly packed two vape carts in her rush for her luggage. She also provided documentation that showed that the U.S. doctor had prescribed the oil for pain management.
Her arrest in February came as tensions between Moscow, the United States, and Ukraine rose.
The U.S. government claimed Griner was “wrongfully detained” in an attempt to negotiate a prisoner transfer with Russia. Whelan would join Griner. The White House released Griner and Whelan in exchange for a “substantial offering.”
Whelan’s sister, Whelan, was visited Wednesday by a U.S. official to share news regarding Griner. Whelan also had an American official speak to him in prison to relay the information. The official stated that Biden would like to speak with Whelan’s family.
Biden said that his team is continuing to work towards his release.
Biden stated that Russia treats Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s despite being illegitimate.