Brittney Griner Back in U.S. Custody Following Prisoner Swap
By Sam Chapman, News Reporter
WNBA player and Russian prisoner Brittney Griner is on her way back to the United States following her imprisonment since February.
Griner’s freedom was granted by Russia in exchange for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, otherwise known as the “Merchant of Death.”
Accompanied by Griner’s wife, President Biden said Thursday morning that “She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” according to CNN.
Notably missing from the prisoner swap was former marine Paul Whelan, who was mentioned in the initial offers in a potential exchange but was not included in the final trade.
President Biden directly addressed Whelan after announcing Griner’s freedom. According to ABC News, he said: “We've not forgotten about Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly detained in Russia for years. This was not a choice of which American to bring home,” said Biden on Thursday from the White House.
The President added that, “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. We will never give up."
The gold medal-winning basketball player will return home after being imprisoned in Russia for close to one year, a homecoming considered long overdue by many. This sentiment was echoed by the President on Thursday morning.
“After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along.”