Saturday December 9, 2023

After 294 Days in Russian Custody, Brittney Griner Is Coming Home

  • Brittney Griner began a nine-year sentence in at a Russian penal colony last month.
  • Griner's release is in exchange from an arms dealer.
Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
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Brittney Griner is going home after beginning a nine-year sentence at a Russian penal colony last month.

The Biden administration negotiated the WNBA star’s release from the penal colony on Thursday in exchange for Viktor Bout, an Arms dealer who served 11 years of a 25-year sentence.

“She is safe, she is on plane, she is on her way home,” Biden said.

Griner, who was detained in Russia in February for allegedly possessing vape canisters with cannabis oil, will be flown to a San Antonio medical facility to receive care.

Griner’s ordeal galvanized communities across the nation in support of the two-time Olympic gold medalist.

“The enormity of this moment cannot fully be captured in words. BG, Brittney Griner, is coming home,” said the WNBPA said in a statement. “Today culminates 294 days of relentless effort to free BG from her wrongful detainment. We, as a Union, have not been whole since February 17, 2022. But, today, our 144 is complete.”

Paul Whelan, a retired American Marine accused of spying, remains jailed in Russia. Biden said he would continue to work to free Whelan.

“There is no greater success than for a wrongful detainee to be freed & for them to go home. The Biden Admin made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, & to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to,” the Whelan family released a statement.

The WNBPA added: “Today, we also have Paul Whelan and his family in our hearts. We will continue to advocate for the release of all wrongfully detained Americans and reaffirm our commitment to the Bring Our Families Home campaign.”

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