After 10 months of captivity, Brittney Griner, the US basketball star imprisoned in Russia, was released on Thursday in a prisoner swap for Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death,” President Biden announced.
President Biden and said that Ms. Griner would be back in the United States within 24 hours.
“I spoke with Brittney Griner,” Mr. Biden said. “She’s safe. She’s on a plane. She’s on her way home after months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held in intolerable circumstances.”
He added: “Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones — and she should have been there all along.”
Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, described her wife’s imprisonment as “the darkest moments” in her life, and thanked Mr. Biden and administration officials for working tirelessly to secure Ms. Griner’s release.
“Today, I’m just standing here, overwhelmed with emotions,” she said.
While celebrating Griner’s release, the U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, said he wished Paul Whelan had been part of the swap. “Despite our ceaseless efforts, the Russian government has not yet been willing to bring a long overdue end to his wrongful detention,” Blinken said in a statement.
Ms. Griner is expected to land in Houston, her hometown, by this evening.