EXCLUSIVE: Brittney Griner Lands Home In US after prisoner swap with Russia

After being held in Russia for ten months, WNBA star Brittney Griner has now arrived in the United States.

At 4:29 a.m., Griner touched down at Kelly Airfield in San Antonio. time zone. She was taken to Brook Army Medical Center, where she will receive treatment and be reunited with Cherelle Griner.

The 32-year-old native of Houston was sentenced to nine years in prison earlier this year after Russian officials discovered cannabis oil in her luggage. Her release was secured by the Biden administration in return for Russian arms trader Viktor Bout.

President Biden’s first priority was accomplished with Griner’s safe return, but he faced criticism for failing to obtain the release of another American, former Marine Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia for close to four years.

In a press appearance on Thursday, Biden stated that he had spoken to Griner on the phone and that while she was safe and relieved, she deserved peace and rest. She would receive specialist medical care and psychotherapy, according to American officials.

WNBA star Brittney Griner has returned to Texas, where she was born and raised, ten months after departing for Russia to play basketball.

Griner, who was imprisoned in February for possessing cannabis oil at a Moscow airport, was on Thursday swapped for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

At the airport in Abu Dhabi, the pair was observed moving across the tarmac.

Griner was “in good spirits,” according to President Joe Biden, and required “time and space to heal.”

After spending time in a Russian correctional colony, she was flown to San Antonio, which is close to her birthplace of Houston, where she will be provided with medical care.

She was anticipating meeting her wife, Cherelle Griner, who was at Mr. Biden’s announcement on Thursday at the White House.

In a statement regarding her return, NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated, “Brittney has had to endure an unfathomable scenario and we’re delighted that she is on her way home to her family and friends.”

Just a few days before Russia invaded Ukraine, Griner was taken into custody in February.

She is one of the most well-known athletes in the country. The two-time Olympic champion played centre for Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA during the US basketball season.

She travelled to Moscow in order to play in Russia during the US off-season. She claimed that the cannabis oil discovered in her purse had been a “honest mistake” during her trial in Russia.

Being aware that Moscow has long demanded the release of Bout, a convicted arms dealer known as the Merchant of Death, the Biden administration proposed a prisoner exchange in July. He has spent the last 12 years imprisoned in the United States.

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