WNBA star Brittney Griner has been released from Russian custody and is heading home to the United States just before the holidays.
The Joe Biden administration agreed to a one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout. Biden addressed the nation Thursday morning (Dec. 8) in the United Arap Emirates.
Griner has been detained in Russia since February after being arrested on drug smuggling charges at a Moscow airport. She was found guilty of drug smuggling charges and sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison.
Aside from making the announcement about Griner, President Biden also spoke about Paul Whelan, a retired U.S. Marine who was also supposed to be a part of the swap. "We have not forgotten about Paul Whelan. This was not a choice of which American to bring home," Biden said.
He continued, "Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul's case differently than Brittney's, and while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul's release, we are not giving up."
Whelan's family was informed about Griner's release and said in a statement, "There is no greater success than for a wrongful detainee to be freed and for them to go home. The Biden Admin made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn't going to."