WNBA star Brittney Griner again in U.S. following extreme-profile Russia jailing, prisoner swap

Brittney Griner disembarked from a plane in Texas early Friday, virtually 10 months after the basketball star was detained in Russia and have become most probably the most extreme-profile American jailed overseas.

Griner was exchanged for infamous arms vendor Viktor Bout. The plane carrying her touched down at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

The deal achieved a prime aim for U.S. President Joe Biden — however did not win freedom for one extra American, Paul Whelan, who has been jailed for virtually 4 years.

Biden’s authorization to launch Bout, the Russian felon as quickly as nicknamed “the service provider of loss of life,” underscored the heightened urgency that his administration confronted to get Griner dwelling, notably after the current decision of her felony case on drug prices and her subsequent change to a penal colony.

Griner, who additionally performed professional basketball in Russia, was arrested at an airport there after Russian authorities mentioned she was carrying vape canisters with hashish oil. earlier than her conviction, the U.S. State division declared Griner to be “wrongfully detained” — a cost that Russia has sharply rejected.

Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medallist and Phoenix Mercury professional basketball star. Her standing as an overtly gay Black woman, locked up in a rustic the place authorities have been hostile to the LBGTQ neighborhood, injected racial, gender and social dynamics into her authorized saga.

U.S. officers mentioned she could be supplied specialised medical providers and counselling.

on this picture taken from video, Russian citizen Viktor Bout has his blood stress taken whereas on the airport of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He has since arrived in Russia. (RU-24 Russian tv/The associated Press)

Bout had been in custody for virtually 15 years

Following Griner’s arrest at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February, she pleaded responsible in July however nonetheless confronted trial as a outcome of admitting guilt in Russia’s judicial system would not mechanically finish a case.

She acknowledged in court docket that she possessed canisters with hashish oil however mentioned she had no felony intent and she or he by accident packed them. Her defence staff supplied written statements that she had been prescribed hashish to deal with ache.

In releasing Bout, the U.S. freed a former Soviet army lieutenant colonel whom the Justice division as quickly as described as one among many world’s most prolific arms sellers. He was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and extradited to the U.S. in 2010.

Bout was serving a 25-yr sentence on prices that he conspired to promote tens of hundreds and hundreds of dollars in weapons that U.S officers mentioned have been to be used in direction of people.

WATCH | U.S. Secretary of State clarify rationale for decision:

‘the selection was one or none,’ say Blinken on Griner-Bout swap

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White dwelling press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre each said that there was by no means an possibility to incorporate Paul Whelan with Brittney Griner when discussing the prisoner swap with Russia.

Bout was again dwelling in Russia on Friday, his spouse confirmed to Reuters.

U.S. officers collectively with Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned the particular person-for-particular person alternate was the one deal on the desk, leaving Michigan resident Paul Whelan nonetheless imprisoned in Russia. The Ottawa-born Whelan, who holds American, Canadian and Irish citizenship, was convicted on espionage prices he denies.


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