WNBA star Brittney Griner has returned to Texas, where she was born and raised, ten months after departing for Russia to play basketball. Griner, who was imprisoned in February for possessing cannabis oil at a Moscow airport, was on Thursday swapped for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. She was transported by air to San Antonio, where she will get medical attention. John Kirby from the White House said on MSNBC on Friday that Griner is “in good spirits” and “in good health.”
On Thursday, Griner’s return to his home country was initially revealed by President Joe Biden. She was anticipating meeting up with her wife, Cherelle Griner, who was at Mr. Biden’s announcement at the White House. In a statement regarding her return, NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated, “Brittney has had to endure an unfathomable scenario and we’re delighted that she is on her way home to her family and friends.” Read full story below.
Why was Griner got Detained?
Griner, a star centre in her 32nd year who plays for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, was detained at a Russian airport in February and later pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the discovery of cannabis-derived oil cartridges in her luggage. Griner’s detention came as a result of the fact that the cartridges were found in her luggage. Griner said that she had no intention of bringing the cartridges with her when she went to Russia to compete in a basketball league during the offseason of the WNBA.
After five months of stalled diplomacy and various permutations of potential swap arrangements — including a previously unreported offer by the United States this past summer to send two prisoners back to Russia in exchange for the two Americans — sources say that the one-for-one exchange finally came together over the course of the last two weeks.
The Prisoner Swap with Russia
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has acknowledged that a swap took occurred on Thursday. In a statement that was reported by Russian news outlets, the ministry stated that the swap took place in Abu Dhabi, and that Bout has been flown back to Russia. Griner and Biden had a phone conversation. Officials from the United States have stated that she will be provided with specialised medical care as well as psychotherapy.
By releasing Bout, the United States government was able to liberate a former Soviet Army lieutenant colonel who was formerly classified as one of the most prolific arms dealers in the world by the Justice Department. In 2008, he was taken into custody in Thailand, and in 2010, he was extradited to the United States. Bout was serving a term of 25 years in prison after being found guilty of conspiring to sell tens of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons that, according to officials from the United States of America, were intended to be used against Americans.
Griner is Second Prisoner Swap
The exchange of Griner for Bout represents the second prisoner swap conducted by the Biden administration with Russia. In April, the United States of America exchanged Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian smuggler convicted of conspiring to import cocaine, for Trevor Reed, a former United States Marine who had been imprisoned in Russia for nearly three years. Reed had served his time as a prisoner. Yaroshenko was convicted of conspiring to import cocaine.
CBS News discovered on Thursday of the previous week that a trade involving Griner and Bout was in the works, but the network complied with a request from the White House to withhold reporting on the matter because administration officials voiced serious concerns about the vulnerability of the then-emerging deal. The officials working for the Biden administration sent a warning that making the specifics of the trade public before it was completed would almost surely cause Russia to back out of the arrangement and may put Griner’s safety in jeopardy.
Paul Whelan is not in Swap List
During the summertime negotiations that were being held to obtain Griner’s release, the United States stated that it had made it quite clear that it desired for former Marine Paul Whelan to be a part of any exchange. At a news conference held on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the possibility of future prisoner swaps between Russia and the United States exists, and that intelligence agencies from both nations continue to communicate with one another.
However, Whelan, who was arrested in 2018 on charges of spying, was not included in the swap that took place on Thursday, which dashed the hopes of his family. Whelan told CNN in a phone conversation from the penal colony where he is being detained that he was “greatly upset” that more had not been done to liberate him, as he claimed that he had not committed any crime. Whelan is being held there despite the fact that he is innocent. For more updates you can visit- TrendingWork