Today (Dec. 8), President Joe Biden has revealed that Brittney Griner was released by Russian authorities and is in route back to the United States. Taking to social media, Biden’s team unveiled images showing him, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Cherelle Griner on a phone call with the basketball star.
According to CBS News, Brittney’s release was part of a swap agreement for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, a man that was given the nickname “Merchant of Death” due to weapons smuggling operations he oversaw since the fall of the Soviet Union. The one-for-one exchange was negotiated with Moscow over the past few weeks, ending with Biden signing a commutation order to cut short Bout’s 25-year federal prison sentence.
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022
In remarks made during a White House press briefing, Biden provided further details on Brittney’s release and assured she will soon “be back in the arms of her loved ones” after “months of being unjustly detained”:
“This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release. It took painstaking and intense negotiations, and I want to thank all the hardworking public servants across my administration who worked tirelessly to secure her release. I also want to thank the [United Arab Emirates] for helping us facilitate Brittney‘s return, ’cause that’s where she landed.”
He continued: “These past few months have been hell for Brittney… People all across the country have learned about Brittney‘s story, advocated for her release throughout this terrible ordeal, and I know that support meant a lot to her family. I’m glad to be able to say that Brittney’s in good spirits. She’s relieved to finally be heading home, and the fact remains that she’s lost months of her life experiencing needless trauma.”
You can check out Biden‘s press conference below.