Brittney Griner, the WNBA athlete who was arrested at a Moscow airport almost ten months ago, after authorities found a vape cartridge with cannabis oil in her luggage, has been freed. In August, Griner was found guilty of drug smuggling and possession by a Russian court and sentenced to nine years in prison, but on Thursday, it was announced that Griner had been freed in a prisoner swap for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.
“Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones—and she should have been there all along,” President Joe Biden said in a statement on Thursday, noting that although Griner was in good spirits, “the past few months have been hell” for Griner and the people in her life.
Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, thanked the Biden administration for its role in freeing Brittney from Russian detention, saying, “Over the last nine months, you all have been so privy to one of the darkest moments of my life, and so today I’m just standing here overwhelmed with emotions, but the most important emotion that I have right now is just sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration.”
“Today my family is whole, but as you are all aware, there are so many other families that are not whole,” Cherelle Griner continued in an apparent reference to other Americans who are still being detained by Russian authorities. Businessman and former Marine Paul Whelan is among the American still detained in Russia, despite the administration’s efforts to include him in the prisoner swap deal. “B.G. (Brittney Griner) and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home,” Cherelle Griner noted, “including Paul, whose family is in our hearts today as we celebrate B.G. being home.”