Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner has been released from a Russian penal colony and is in United States custody after a prisoner exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout, President Biden confirmed Thursday morning.
CBS News was first to report the news.
According to the report, the exchange has been in the works for the past two weeks and Biden gave the final go-ahead for the swap. Biden spoke with Griner on the phone and Griner’s wife, Cherelle, was at the White House.
The swap took place in the United Arab Emirates.
Griner, an eight-time WNBA all-star center and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February. Griner admitted that she had the canisters in her luggage, but testified that she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no criminal intent.
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TIMELINE: What has happened since the WNBA star was detained
The U.S. government had repeatedly said that the 31-year-old Griner was wrongfully detained and she was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Bout, 55, nicknamed the “Merchant of Death,” is a former Soviet Army lieutenant colonel, who was serving a 25-year sentence for what U.S. officials say for trying to sell weapons to be used against Americans. Bout was held at a federal prison in Marion, Indiana and was set to be released in August 2029, according the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Story Credit: usatoday.com