Brittney Griner Is Back In The U.S.

The WNBA star was released from Russia following a prisoner swap for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
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A plane carrying Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who spent months imprisoned in Russia on drug charges, landed in the U.S. on Friday morning.

Griner was released following a prisoner exchange for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout announced Thursday.

Griner arrived in Kelly Field, San Antonio, in her home state of Texas.

A senior administration official told CNBC she will be taken to a medical facility, where she will be reunited with her wife, Cherelle Griner.

“She was in very, very good spirits when she got off the plane and appeared to be, obviously, in good health,” John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications at the White House, told NBC’s “Today.”

Roger D. Carstens, the U.S. special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, welcomed her return.

“So happy to have Brittney back on U.S. soil,” Carstens wrote on Twitter.

Footage released by Russian state media showed the two-time Olympic Gold medalist aboard the plane, saying she was “happy” to be going home.

The moment the prisoner exchange between Russia and the U.S. took place was reportedly captured on camera by Russian state media, which released edited video that appeared to show Griner and Bout crossing paths on the tarmac at Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi.

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February over police allegedly finding vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her suitcase. Griner admitted to having the vape canisters, but said she packed them by accident and had no intention to break the law.

Another wrongfully detained American in Russia, former Marine Paul Whelan, was not part of the exchange deal between the two countries.

“For totally illegitimate reasons, Russia has treated Paul’s case different from Brittney’s,” U.S. President Joe Biden said, adding that he will continue working to secure Whelan’s release.

Former President Donald Trump criticized the prisoner swap that secured Griner’s release, calling it “a ‘stupid’ and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA!!!” for not including Whelan.

He also said Griner “openly hates our Country” due to her participation in protests for racial justice in 2020.

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