HomeSportsBrittney Griner Arrives in US After Prisoner Swap With Russia: VIDEO

Brittney Griner Arrives in US After Prisoner Swap With Russia: VIDEO

by Samantha Whidden

Nearly 10 months after she was arrested on drug charges, Brittney Griner has arrived in the U.S. following a one-for-one prison swap with Russia.  Reuters shared a live video of Brittney Griner landing at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas following her Russian prison release. 

Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, shared his reaction to Brittney Griner’s U.S. arrival in a tweet. “So happy to have Brittney back on U.S. soil. Welcome home BG!”

As previously reported, a U.S. official confirmed that Brittney Griner was involved in a one-for-one prison swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout. The exchange occurred on Thursday (December 8th) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The agreement between the U.S. and Russia had been reached a week earlier. 

President Biden took to Twitter to announce the latest development. He also shared pictures of him speaking on the phone with the WNBA player following her release from Russian custody. “Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner,” Biden declared in the tweet. He further confirmed that the WNBA player is safe. “She is on a plane. She is on her way home.”

Brittney Griner had been convicted of drug charges back in August and was given a nine-year sentence. She was sent to a Russian penal colony where she reportedly experienced homophobia, bigotry as well as 16-hour workdays. Although she had appealed the sentencing in October, the Russian court denied the appeal.

President Biden Speaks About Brittney Griner’s Return to the U.S. Following Russian Imprisonment 

Following his announcement on Twitter, President Biden spoke to the press about Brittney Griner coming home following the one-for-one prison swap. 

“After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones and she should have been there all along,” President Biden shared. “This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release.”

President Biden further explained that after speaking to Brittney Griner, he said she was in good spirits. He further dismissed the “show trial in Russia” that placed her in prison. He declared, “She didn’t ask for special treatment.”

In order to secure Brittney Griner’s release, President Biden ordered Bout be freed and put in Russian custody. He also signed a commutation order to cut short the arms dealer’s 25-year federal prison sentence. 

Furthermore, President Biden spoke about the currently imprisoned retired U.S. Marine Paul Whelan. He is in a Russian prison after being accused of espionage in 2018. “We’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan,” Biden stated. He also added that the U.S. government will “never give up” on securing the military serviceman’s release. 

Whelan did speak to CNN in a phone call on Thursday and said he was happy that Brittney Griner was free. However, he was “greatly disappointed” that more has not been done to secure his release.