U.S President Joe Biden has confirmed the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner from a Russian penal colony following a prisoner swap with Russia.
Griner, who was serving nine years in prison after being convicted on drug charges in August. Griner was reportedly found with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. The WNBA star told the Russian court she made an “honest mistake” and “never meant to break any laws”.
“She is safe, she is on a plane, she is on her way home,” President Biden announced from the White House.
“She will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along,” he added.
Biden described the efforts to bring Griner home as “painstaking”, saying that the negotiations were necessary in getting the two-time Olympic gold medalist who was enduring “hell” and being held “under intolerable circumstances” home.
In the Oval Office, Griner’s wife, Cherelle, praised the Biden administration for securing Griner’s release.
“So over the last nine months, you all have been so privy to one of the darkest moments of my life, and so today I’m just standing here overwhelmed with emotions, but the most important emotion that I have right now is just sincere gratitude for president Biden and his entire administration,” Cherelle said.
Brittney Griner’s release was part of a high-level prisoner swap in exchange for the notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout – a man nicknamed the “Merchant of Death” by his accusers, who was serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States on charges of conspiring to kill Americans.
Last Updated on Dec 9, 2022