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Brittney Griner Released from Russian Prison in High-Profile Prisoner Swap

(Source: Russia 24/CNN)
WNBA star Brittney Griner is coming home.

Griner, 32, was arrested at a Moscow airport in February for possessing two vape cartridges with small amounts of cannabis oil.

Last month, after being found guilty of drug possession and drug smuggling by a Russian judge, she was sent to a penal colony to serve a nine-year sentence.

Today, the US and Russia exchanged the basketball star for arms dealer Viktor Bout. 

Nicknamed the "Merchant of Death," the gun-runner has been languishing in an American prison for the past 12 years after being given a 25-year sentence on charges of conspiring to kill Americans, acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles, and provide material support to a terrorist organization.

Speaking from the White House President Joe Biden celebrated the release of the two-time Olympic gold medalist.

"I'm glad to say Brittney's in good spirits... she needs time and space to recover," he said, noting that she was on a flight home from the United Arab Emirates following the prisoner exchange at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Griner's wife, Cherelle, praised the work of the Biden administration in securing her release.

"Today, I'm just standing here overwhelmed with emotions, but the most important emotion that I have right now is just sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration," she said, standing next to President Biden while speaking from the Oval Office.

She added, "Today my family is whole, but as you all are aware, there's so many other families who are not whole."

Cherelle promised that she and her partner would continue to work to bring every American home, including Paul Whelan, a former Marine who has been detained in Russia on espionage charges since 2018. Then she told the audience of reporters that she was going to do something she had not done in months.

"Thank you everybody for your support, and today's just a happy day for me and my family, so I'm gonna smile right now," she said.

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