WNBA star Griner freed after US-Russia prisoner swap

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The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

This combo of images shows Viktor Bout, left, a suspected Russian arms dealer at the criminal court in Bangkok, on Aug. 20, 2010 and WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medallist Brittney Griner, right, in a court room before a hearing, in Khimki, outside of Moscow, Russia, on July 27. (AP Photo) –

US basketballer Brittney Griner is on her way back to the US after spending close to one year in jail in Russia.

The US and Russia agreed to a prisoner swap with Griner and infamous arms dealer Viktor Bout, who served 12 years of a 25-year sentence in the US.

Griner was arrested at an airport in Moscow, Russia in February for having cannabis oil. She was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison in August.

“I’m glad to say Brittney’s in good spirits…she needs time and space to recover,” US president Joe Biden said at the White House on Thursday.

The Biden administration proposed a prisoner exchange in July because they knew Russia wanted Bout to return home.

The swap involved two private planes bringing Griner and Bout to Abu Dhabi and then flying them to their respective homes.

The exchange did not include the return of another American, Paul Whelan, who has been jailed for nearly four years in Russia.

Whelan, 52, was convicted of spying in 2020, and sentenced to 16 years in a maximum security jail.

Since Griner’s detention, many WNBA and NBA players and other athletes have called for her release.