Brittney Griner arrives in US after Russia prisoner swap | Russo-Ukrainian War

The prisoner exchange agreement was reached after months of negotiations between Washington and Moscow.

American basketball player Brittney Griner arrived in the United States after serving 10 months in a prison in Russia.

Griner is exchanged for Russian arms dealer Viktor Boutwho arrived in Moscow a few hours earlier on Friday.

The plane carrying Griner had landed in San Antonio, Texas, television footage showed. It is expected that she will immediately be taken to the military center for a health check.

Griner, a 32-year-old star of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, was arrested at a Russian airport in February and she later pleaded guilty to discovering boxes of cannabis-derived oil in your luggage.

She was sentenced on August 4 nine years in prison on drug possession and trafficking charges. Griner said she made an “honest mistake” and didn’t mean to break the law.

Griner is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist. Her identity as an openly gay Black woman – locked up in a country where the government is hostile to the LGBTQ community – brings racial, gender, and social dynamics into the narrative. her law, while at the same time bringing unprecedented attention to the American community of wrongfully detained Americans.

Meanwhile, Russian television showed Bout getting off the plane on a snow-covered runway, his mother and wife hugging him and giving him flowers.

Bout, 55 years old former lieutenant colonel of the Soviet army, accused of supplying weapons to rebel groups in some of the world’s bloodiest conflicts. He was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and extradited to the US two years later.

‘Unnecessary trauma’

The exchange is a rare example of cooperation between the US and Russia since then. Invasion of Ukraine. The two countries also exchanged prisoners in April when Russia released former US Marine Trevor Reed and the US released Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko.

US President Joe Biden on Thursday said he spoke to Griner and she was in “good spirits” after suffering “unnecessary trauma”.

The deal hit the top target for Biden — but didn’t win freedom for another American, Paul Whelan, who was jailed for nearly four years on espionage charges.

Whelan said on Thursday he was “very disappointed”.

“I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here,” he told CNN in a phone call from a Russian penal colony.

Biden pledged to win Whelan’s freedom, saying “we will never give up”.

“Sadly, for completely illegal reasons, Russia is handling Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s,” he said.

Carly Givens of Phoenix shows support for Brittney Griner [Rick Scuteri/AP Photo]


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