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Russia agreed to launch American basketball star Brittney Griner on Thursday after a prisoner swap with convicted Russian arms seller Viktor Bout.

Based on President Joe Biden, Griner is now within the custody of US officers. The tweeted a photograph of him and Griner’s spouse, Cherelle Griner, within the Oval Workplace Thursday morning. Griner’s household has additionally been knowledgeable of the trade, a supply aware of the negotiations instructed CNN.

“Just a few moments in the past, I spoke to Brittney Griner. She is secure. She is on a airplane. She is on her method dwelling,” Biden tweeted.

Based on the Related Press, the Russian Overseas Ministry confirmed the prisoner swap, saying the swap occurred in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, with Bout transported to Russia and Griner returning to the US.

Griner’s eventual launch was a precedence for the Biden Administration, however negotiations through the peak of Russia’s warfare in Ukraine strained and complex diplomatic talks. Griner’s arrest in February for carrying a THC-infused vape cartridge in her baggage made her the highest-profile American jailed overseas.

As a WNBA star, two-time gold medalist and brazenly homosexual black girl detained in a rustic the place the federal government is hostile to the LGBTQ neighborhood, she helped the story acquire worldwide consideration.

Griner was convicted and later despatched to a penal colony after pleading responsible in July to possession of a marijuana-based vaporizer present in her baggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. Griner had acknowledged through the trial that she possessed the vaporizer, however that she had no felony intent.

Biden appeared on a dwell particular report at 8:30 am ET with Vice President Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Cherelle Griner within the Roosevelt Room, confirming that Griner would return to the US inside 24 hours.

“These previous few months have been hell for Brittney,” the president mentioned. “I am glad to say that Brittney is in a very good temper.”

Cherelle Griner, spouse of Brittney Griner, speaks within the Roosevelt Room of the White Home, Thursday, December 8, 2022, in Washington, with President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Vice President Kamala Harris.Photograph by Patrick Semansky/AP

Biden acknowledged that Griner wrote to him in July however didn’t ask for particular remedy. She famous that in her letter, she mentioned: “Please remember concerning the different American detainees and me.”

Biden additionally commented on the standing of Paul Whelan, the previous US Marine convicted of espionage after Russian authorities alleged he was concerned in an intelligence operation. Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in jail and is at the moment in a penal colony in Mordovia.

The president famous that Whelan’s detention “will not be an possibility.” He mentioned: “As a consequence of illegitimate causes, Paul’s case has been handled otherwise from Brittney’s.”

Griner’s spouse, Cherelle, instructed reporters that “the final 9 months have been aware about one of many darkest moments of my life.” She additionally expressed her gratitude to the Biden administration and people concerned in negotiating Griner’s launch.

“B.G. [Brittney Griner] and I’ll stay dedicated to creating each American have a house,” Cherelle mentioned. “All I can do is smile.”

Suspected Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout, middle, is led by armed Thai police commandos as he arrives on the felony court docket in Bangkok, Thailand, October 5, 2010. Photograph by Apichart Weerawong/AP

The American prisoner exchanged for Griner is Victor Bout, a convicted Russian arms seller often known as the “service provider of demise.” He was convicted in 2011 on 4 counts in federal court docket, together with conspiracy to kill US residents.

Prosecutors additionally alleged that he agreed to promote anti-aircraft weapons to anti-drug informants who posed as gun consumers for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the New York Occasions mentioned.

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Brittney Griner Released After Prisoner Swap For Russian Arms Dealer