American basketball player Britney Griner has been released after conducting a prisoner exchange between the United States and Russia.
President Joe Biden announced that he had a phone call with Griner shortly after 8:00 a.m. on December 8.
“She’s safe,” Biden tweeted, sharing a photo with Vice President Kamala Harris and Griner’s wife. Sherel“She’s on the plane. She’s on her way home.”
A while ago, I spoke with Britney Griner.
she is safe
she is on an airplane
she is on her way home pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022
In August, Griner was sentenced by a Moscow court to nine years in prison for bringing cannabis into Russia. Sheremetyevo airport In February, Griner said police detained him and found an e-cigarette canister containing cannabis oil in his luggage. The Phoenix Mercury player, who was arrested in February and pleaded guilty on July 7, testified that he accidentally put a canister of CBD oil in his luggage while rushing to pack. Judge Anna Sotnikova also fined the professional athlete one million rubles (about $16,700).
Biden said a 31-year-old woman was wrongfully detained and asked to be released.
“Today, American citizen Britney Griner received a prison sentence that is yet another reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is unjustly detaining Britney,” Biden said in a statement. ESPN“It is unacceptable. I urge Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates.”
according to BBC, the Biden administration had proposed a prisoner swap to Russia last July. Details of the proposal were never officially confirmed by the White House.
In exchange for Griner’s release, the US government agreed to release Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who had been detained in the US for 12 years while serving a 25-year prison term. Bout was found guilty of a weapons charge and of conspiring to murder an American.
according to CBS news:
Before being arrested, Bout was indicted by the United Nations for arming Liberian President Charles Taylor during the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone. Inspired. Match’s release is sure to provoke criticism from some of his DEA agents who tracked him down and arrested him.
Before Biden’s sentence was commuted, he was scheduled to be released in August 2018. 2029.
Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” Soviet Army lieutenant colonel. He was arrested in Thailand in 2008 during a sting operation by the DEA.
Biden also mentioned this morning Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who has been detained in Russia for nearly four years.
“This was not a choice of which American to take home,” the president said. “Sadly, for completely unjustified reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Britney’s. We have not been successful in getting Paul released, but we have not given up.”
Whelan was accused of spying on the Russian government, but the US government said the charges against him were false.
Whelan’s family announced in early December that he can’t get in touch I informed them that he had been in the prison hospital for a week. He is now back in exile.
Whelan is currently serving a 16-year sentence.