Brittany Griner Back on US Soil After Russian Prisoner Swap
SAN ANTONIO, TX — WNBA star Brittney Griner is back in the US after she was released from Russian detention in a prisoner swap for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.
That’s nearly 10 months after the basketball star was detained in Russia and became the most high-profile American jailed abroad. She was jailed on drug charges back in February. In October, she was convicted and sentenced to 9 year behind bars.
“Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones — and she should have been there all along,” President Joe Biden said Thursday upon securing her release.
The swap did not include another American that the US State Department has declared wrongfully detained, Paul Whelan. Whelan has been jailed for nearly four years on espionage charges.
“The choice was bringing Brittney Griner home right now, or bringing no one home right now,” a senior administration official said.
In a phone interview with CNN, Whelan said he was happy Griner was released but expressed disappointment in his continued detention.
Griner landed in San Antonio early Friday. She will be debriefed at Brooks Army Medical Center before returning to her home in Phoenix.