Biden strikes deal to free Brittney Griner from Russian custody

Source: Politico | December 8, 2022 | Eugene Daniels, Jonathan Lemire and Alexander Ward

Griner will be exchanged for Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, nicknamed the “Merchant of Death.”

The White House has secured the release of American basketball star Brittney Griner, President Joe Biden announced Thursday, confirming that the U.S. sent arms trafficker Viktor Bout to Russia in exchange.

“Moments ago, standing together with her wife, Cherelle, in the Oval Office, I spoke with Brittney Griner,” the president said from the White House. “She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home after months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances.”

Vice President Kamala Harris and Cherelle Griner, who stood behind Biden during the announcement, were also in the room for his Oval Office call with Griner.

The prisoner swap, conducted at Abu Dhabi airport, ends a brutal 10 months for Griner, who Russian authorities arrested in February for possession of vape cartridges containing hash oil. She was sentenced in August to nine years in prison and was recently sent to a penal colony 300 miles outside of Moscow.

Griner is on the way to a medical facility in San Antonio for a routine evaluation.

The news will likely be bittersweet for the family of Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine held in Russia since 2018 on unproven charges of espionage. Elizabeth Whelan, Paul’s sister, told POLITICO in September that “I do not want to see him left behind again and have urged the U.S. government not to let the Russian Federation do that.”

Whelan’s family was given notice by the administration that he was not part of the deal.

“This was not a choice of which American to bring home,” Biden said. “Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittany’s. And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We are never giving up.”


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  • Consistent #56806

    Consistent #56807

    Consistent #56816

    EVERYDAY #56817

    Trump had no interest in negotiating the release of our citizens held in Russia or anywhere else. Now this deal is not the best for the US has given up an arms dealer for Miss Griner and I wish the release of Paul Whelan and Marc Fogel could have been secured before or maybe with Miss Griner’s release, but at least this President made the effort to bring an American home from Russia.

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