In a prisoner swap, Russia releases American basketball star Brittney Griner

After a prisoner swap with convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was serving a 25-year sentence in the United States, basketball star Brittney Griner has been released from a Russian prison and is returning to the United States.

After months of campaigning for Griner’s return, US officials, supporters, and Griner’s loved ones sent messages of relief upon learning of the release.

Russian media outlets reported that the exchange took place at Abu Dhabi airport in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Griner, according to US President Joe Biden, was “on her way home.”

“She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home.” Biden in a tweet with a picture of him and Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Bout had been flown home. Griner was seen leaving a Russian plane in Abu Dhabi, where she was greeted by a US official, according to Russian media.

Bout, who was once referred to as the “Merchant of Death,” was embraced by two Russians.

Afterward, Russian television showed Session strolling off the plane on a snow-shrouded landing area in Moscow, his mom and spouse embracing him and giving him blossoms.

The 32-year-old “incomparable athlete” Griner was arrested on February 17 at a Moscow airport after cartridges containing cannabis oil, which is illegal in Russia, were discovered in her luggage.

Brittney Griner famous US Basketball player
Brittney Griner famous US Basketball player

Griner has won two Olympic gold medals and is a star player for the Phoenix Mercury in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

Her arrest came just a few days before Russia invaded Ukraine completely on February 24, putting further strain on relations between Washington and Moscow. She had been “wrongfully detained,” according to the Biden administration in the beginning.

Over the course of her time in Russian authority, Griner’s family members, partners and allies approached the US government to put its full weight behind the case to get her delivery.

On August 4, she received a nine-year prison sentence for drug possession and smuggling. Although she admitted guilt, she claimed that she had committed an “honest mistake” and had not intended to break the law.

Her attorneys said that the sentence is too harsh and does not “correspond to the gravity of the crime.”

To complete her sentence, Griner was transported to a penal colony in the Russian region of Mordovia last month.

Biden stated that the “past few months have been hell for Brittney” but that she was in good spirits in a brief speech on Thursday at the White House. The basketball star was hailed by him as an “incomparable athlete.”

“This is a day we’ve made progress toward for quite a while. We never gave up trying to get her out. It took careful and extreme talks,” the US president said.

On Thursday, dozens of politicians, athletes, and commentators from the United States expressed happiness and gratitude for Griner’s release.

“BG is free! After 294 days, she is returning!” Breanna Stewart, a Seattle Storm star, wrote on Twitter.

Griner was praised by WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert for her “extraordinary courage and dignity in the face of enormous adversity.”

In a statement, Engelbert stated, “There has not been a day over the past ten months where we all haven’t had Brittney Griner on our minds and in our hearts.”

This has now transformed into a collective wave of joy and relief knowing that she will soon be reunited with her family, the WNBA player community, and her friends.

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Tadese Faforiji

I am Tadese Faforiji, a history student of the prestigious Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State- 21st-century University, properly called. I am a blogger and an avid writer.