After being sentenced to nine years in Russian prison, Brittney Griner is coming home to the United States. The WNBA star was released in a prisoner swap for Russian Arms dealer Viktor Bout, CNN reported.
“She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” Biden said at a news conference. “After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along.”
Biden added that getting Griner home to the U.S. was not easy and took “painstaking and intense negotiations.”
“This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time,” he continued. “We never stopped pushing for her release.”
Biden revealed the news with Griner’s wife, Cherelle, by his side.
Just A Month Ago, Brittney Griner’s Whereabouts Were Unknown
While serving her prison time, Brittney Griner was transferred from a Moscow jail to a Russian penal colony. After being transferred, her whereabouts were unknown. Her transfer occurred after her appeal was denied in October. Her family and attorney weren’t notified about her transfer until weeks after it happened.
“Following a sham trial and the unjust sentencing of Brittney Griner, Moscow is transferring her from a prison in Moscow to a remote penal colony,” U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement. “It is another injustice layered on her ongoing unjust and wrongful detention.”
Russian penal colonies are known for having worst living conditions than jails. Transfers to Russian penal colonies can take weeks or months, Griner’s lawyers told ESPN at the time.
Griner had been detained since February after vape cartridges were found in her luggage at Russia’s Sheremetyevo International Airport. She was there to play basketball with the UMMC Ekaterinburg team during the WNBA offseason.
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