Brittney Griner Released From Russian Prison
American Brittney Griner was released Thursday from a Russian prison after months of negotiations between Vladimir Putin's regime and the Biden administration. The administration secured the 32-year-old WNBA player’s release in exchange for Viktor Bout, a prolific Russian arms dealer.
Griner was arrested at a Russian airport in February after officials discovered cannabis-derived oil cartridges in her luggage. Cannabis is illegal in Russia. Despite the pretense for the arrest, Griner was widely considered to be an American hostage.
"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," said President Biden. "This is a day we've worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release."
Republicans criticized the president for securing Griner’s release, but not that of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan. The administration says his release was never on the table.
"We've not forgotten about Paul Whelan," Biden said, adding “we will never give up" on securing his release.