Russia frees US basketballer Brittney Griner in prisoner swap

8/12/2022 9:42:00 PM

#BREAKING: US basketball star Brittney Griner has been released from a Russian prison, in a prisoner swap. DETAILS: #9News

BREAKING: US basketball star Brittney Griner has been released from a Russian prison, in a prisoner swap. DETAILS: 9News

Russia freed WNBA star Brittney Griner in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange, with the US releasing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout - the man once nicknamed "the Merchant of Death".

releasing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, American officials said.releasing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, American officials said.releasing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, American officials said.Read more Joe Biden, who had made Griner’s release a top priority after she spent almost 10 months in jail on drugs charges, said in an address from the White House he had spoken with Griner and found her “in good spirits”.

The swap, at a time of heightened tensions over Ukraine, achieved a top goal for US President Joe Biden , but carried a heavy price — and left behind an American jailed for nearly four years in Russia.The deal, the second such exchange in eight months with Russia, procured the release of the most prominent American detained abroad.The deal, the second such exchange in eight months with Russia, procured the release of the most prominent American detained abroad.READ MORE: Russia freed WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange, with the US releasing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.READ MORE: Russia freed WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange, with the US releasing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.(AP) Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist whose months-long imprisonment on drug charges brought unprecedented attention to the population of wrongful detainees.(AP) Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist whose months-long imprisonment on drug charges brought unprecedented attention to the population of wrongful detainees.Biden's authorisation to release a Russian felon once nicknamed "the Merchant of Death" underscored the escalating pressure that his administration faced to get Griner home, particularly after the recent resolution of her criminal case and her subsequent transfer to a penal colony.And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up.

READ MORE: Volodymyr Zelenskyy named Time's Person of the Year 2022  "Today my family is whole," Cherelle Griner said in a press conference at the White House her wife was freed and called for Paul Whelan's release.READ MORE: Volodymyr Zelenskyy named Time's Person of the Year 2022  "Today my family is whole," Cherelle Griner said in a press conference at the White House her wife was freed and called for Paul Whelan's release.READ MORE: Volodymyr Zelenskyy named Time's Person of the Year 2022  "Today my family is whole," Cherelle Griner said in a press conference at the White House her wife was freed and called for Paul Whelan's release.Biden says US has "not forgotten about Paul Whelan", will "never give up" trying to secure his release from Russia.US President Joe Biden and Brittney Griner's wife, Cherelle, addressed the media at the White House on Thursday morning.US President Joe Biden and Brittney Griner's wife, Cherelle, addressed the media at the White House on Thursday morning.(POOL) "We've never forgotten about Brittney and we've not forgotten about Paul Whelan, who's been unjustly detained in Russia for years," the US President said at the White House.(POOL) "We've never forgotten about Brittney and we've not forgotten about Paul Whelan, who's been unjustly detained in Russia for years," the US President said at the White House."This was not a choice of which American to bring home."This was not a choice of which American to bring home.“Today my family is whole, but as you all are aware, there’s so many other families who are not whole.

We brought home Trevor Reed when we had a chance earlier this year.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.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.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." Russian and US officials had conveyed cautious optimism in recent weeks after months of strained negotiations, with Biden saying in November that he was hopeful that Russia would engage in a deal now that the midterm elections were completed.A top Russian official said last week that a deal was possible before year's end.A top Russian official said last week that a deal was possible before year's end."Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner."Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.Biden’s authorization to release Bout, once nicknamed “the Merchant of Death”, underscored the pressure his administration faced to get Griner home, particularly after the resolution of her criminal case and her transfer to a penal colony.

She is safe.She is safe.She is on a plane.She is on her way home," US President Joe Biden tweeted from the White House on Thursday morning.She is on her way home," US President Joe Biden tweeted from the White House on Thursday morning.She is on her way home," US President Joe Biden tweeted from the White House on Thursday morning.(@Potus/Twitter) Even so, the fact that the deal was a one-for-one swap was a surprise given that US officials had for months expressed their their determination to bring home both Griner and Paul Whelan, a Michigan corporate security executive jailed in Russia since December 2018 on espionage charges that his family and the US government has said are baseless.In releasing Bout, the US freed a a former Soviet Army lieutenant colonel whom the Justice Department once described as one of the world's most prolific arms dealers.In releasing Bout, the US freed a a former Soviet Army lieutenant colonel whom the Justice Department once described as one of the world's most prolific arms dealers.A lawyer for Whelan said he had not been approached.

Bout, whose exploits inspired a Hollywood movie, was serving a 25-year sentence on charges that he conspired to sell tens of millions of dollars in weapons that US officials said were to be used against Americans.Bout, whose exploits inspired a Hollywood movie, was serving a 25-year sentence on charges that he conspired to sell tens of millions of dollars in weapons that US officials said were to be used against Americans.The Biden administration was ultimately willing to exchange Bout if it meant Griner's freedom.The Biden administration was ultimately willing to exchange Bout if it meant Griner's freedom.The detention of one of the greatest players in WNBA history contributed to a swirl of unprecedented public attention for an individual detainee case — not to mention intense pressure on the White House.US President Joe Biden tweeted photos of Brittney Griner's wife, Cherelle, at the White House on Thursday morning.US President Joe Biden tweeted photos of Brittney Griner's wife, Cherelle, at the White House on Thursday morning.US President Joe Biden tweeted photos of Brittney Griner's wife, Cherelle, at the White House on Thursday morning.(@Potus/Twitter) Griner's arrest in February made her the most high-profile American jailed abroad.Russian and US officials had conveyed cautious optimism after months of negotiations, with Biden saying in November he was hopeful.

Her status as an openly gay Black woman, locked up in a country where authorities have been hostile to the LBGTQ community, infused racial, gender and social dynamics into her legal saga and made each development a matter of international importance.Her status as an openly gay Black woman, locked up in a country where authorities have been hostile to the LBGTQ community, infused racial, gender and social dynamics into her legal saga and made each development a matter of international importance.Her case not only brought unprecedented publicity to the dozens of Americans wrongfully detained by foreign governments, but it also emerged as a major inflection point in US-Russia diplomacy at a time of deteriorating relations prompted by Moscow's war against Ukraine.Her case not only brought unprecedented publicity to the dozens of Americans wrongfully detained by foreign governments, but it also emerged as a major inflection point in US-Russia diplomacy at a time of deteriorating relations prompted by Moscow's war against Ukraine.The exchange was carried out despite deteriorating relations between the powers.The exchange was carried out despite deteriorating relations between the powers.But the imprisonment of Americans produced a rare diplomatic opening, yielding the highest-level known contact between Washington and Moscow — a phone call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — in more than five months.In an extraordinary move during otherwise secret negotiations, Blinken revealed publicly in July that the US had made a "substantial proposal" to Russia for Griner and Whelan.In an extraordinary move during otherwise secret negotiations, Blinken revealed publicly in July that the US had made a "substantial proposal" to Russia for Griner and Whelan.In an extraordinary move during otherwise secret negotiations, Blinken revealed publicly in July that the US had made a "substantial proposal" to Russia for Griner and Whelan.But the detention of one of the greatest players in WNBA history contributed to a swirl of unprecedented public attention for an individual detainee case.

Biden's authorisation to release a Russian felon once nicknamed "the Merchant of Death" underscored the escalating pressure that his administration faced to get Griner home.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong) Though he did not specify the terms, people familiar with it said the US had offered Bout.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong) Though he did not specify the terms, people familiar with it said the US had offered Bout.Such a public overture drew a chiding rebuke from the Russians, who said they preferred to resolve such cases in private, and carried the risk of weakening the US government's negotiating hand for this and future deals by making the administration appear too desperate.Such a public overture drew a chiding rebuke from the Russians, who said they preferred to resolve such cases in private, and carried the risk of weakening the US government's negotiating hand for this and future deals by making the administration appear too desperate.But the announcement was also meant to communicate to the public that Biden was doing what he could and to ensure pressure on the Russians.But the announcement was also meant to communicate to the public that Biden was doing what he could and to ensure pressure on the Russians.Besides the efforts of US officials, the release also followed months of backchannel negotiations involving Bill Richardson, the former US ambassador to the United Nations and a frequent emissary in hostage talks, and his top deputy Mickey Bergman.People familiar with it said the US offered Bout.

Griner's arrest in February made her the most high-profile American jailed abroad.Griner's arrest in February made her the most high-profile American jailed abroad.Griner's arrest in February made her the most high-profile American jailed abroad.(AP) The men had made multiple trips abroad in the last year to discuss swap scenarios with Russian contacts.Griner was arrested at the Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport in February when customs officials said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage.Griner was arrested at the Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport in February when customs officials said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage.She pleaded guilty in July, though still faced trial because admitting guilt in Russia's judicial system does not automatically end a case.She pleaded guilty in July, though still faced trial because admitting guilt in Russia's judicial system does not automatically end a case.She acknowledged in court that she possessed the canisters, but said she had no criminal intent and said their presence in her luggage was due to hasty packing.She acknowledged in court that she possessed the canisters, but said she had no criminal intent and said their presence in her luggage was due to hasty packing.She pleaded guilty in July, though still faced trial.

The detention of one of the greatest players in WNBA history contributed to a swirl of unprecedented public attention for an individual detainee case.(Getty) Before being sentenced on August 4 and receiving a punishment her lawyers said was out of line for the offense, an emotional Griner apologised "for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them.(Getty) Before being sentenced on August 4 and receiving a punishment her lawyers said was out of line for the offense, an emotional Griner apologised "for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them.(Getty) Before being sentenced on August 4 and receiving a punishment her lawyers said was out of line for the offense, an emotional Griner apologised "for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them." She added: "I hope in your ruling it does not end my life." Her supporters had largely stayed quiet for weeks after her arrest, but that approach changed in May once the State Department designated her as unlawfully detained." Her supporters had largely stayed quiet for weeks after her arrest, but that approach changed in May once the State Department designated her as unlawfully detained.A separate trade, Marine veteran Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot convicted in the US in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy, spurred hope that additional such exchanges could be in the works.A separate trade, Marine veteran Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot convicted in the US in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy, spurred hope that additional such exchanges could be in the works.A separate trade, the marines veteran Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot convicted in a cocaine-trafficking conspiracy, spurred hope of more exchanges.

Whelan has been held in Russia since December 2018.Whelan has been held in Russia since December 2018.The US government also classified him as wrongfully detained.He was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison.He was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison.He was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison.Whelan was not included in the Reed prisoner swap, escalating pressure on the Biden administration to ensure that any deal that brought home Griner also included him.Continue reading.Continue reading.As the family member of a Russian hostage, I can literally only imagine the joy she will have, being reunited with her loved ones, and in time for the holidays.

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They exchanged the Merchant of Death for a WNBA player. The Biden WhiteHouse is a clown show

Russia frees US basketballer Brittney Griner in prisoner swapRussia freed WNBA star Brittney Griner in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange, with the US releasing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout - the man once nicknamed "the Merchant of Death".

Russia frees US basketballer Brittney Griner in prisoner swapRussia freed WNBA star Brittney Griner in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange, with the US releasing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout - the man once nicknamed "the Merchant of Death".

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