American basketball star Brittney Griner returns residence after a prisoner alternate in Russia

American basketball star Brittney Grenier arrived in the US on Friday morning after being launched from a Russian jail in alternate for an arms vendor generally known as the “vendor of dying”.

An AFP reporter noticed Greiner, 32, who was arrested in Russia in February on drug fees, strolling throughout a runway after her airplane landed in San Antonio, Texas.

US media reported that she was anticipated to be taken to a close-by army facility for medical examinations.

Grenier was changed in Abu Dhabi on Thursday by Viktor Bout, a 55-year-old Russian nationwide who was serving a 25-year sentence in a US jail.

In footage launched by Russian state media, Greiner, stripped of her signature dreadlocks, and a relaxed, energetic bout are seen crossing lanes on the tarmac and heading in the direction of the planes that may take them residence.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden stated he had spoken to her and that she was “in good spirits” after struggling “undue trauma.”

Grenier, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, WNBA champion and LGBTQ pioneer, was arrested at a Moscow airport towards the backdrop of escalating tensions over Ukraine.

She was charged with possession of vaporizer cartridges containing a small quantity of hashish oil and was sentenced in August to 9 years in jail.


Bout, who was accused of arming rebels in among the world’s bloodiest conflicts, was arrested in a US operation in Thailand in 2008, extradited to the US, and sentenced in 2012 to 25 years in jail.

State tv stated he arrived in Russia on Thursday. He stated to his mom, Raisa: “Don’t be concerned, every thing is okay, I really like you very a lot.”

Whereas Graner’s household and associates celebrated her launch, one other American held in Russia, former US Marine Paul Whelan, who has been held since 2018 and charged with espionage, was not a part of the alternate on Thursday.

He instructed CNN he was “very disillusioned”.

“I do not perceive why I am nonetheless sitting right here,” Whelan instructed CNN in a cellphone name from a Russian penal colony.

Biden vowed to get Whelan’s freedom, saying, “We’ll by no means give up.”

“It’s unhappy, and for completely illegitimate causes, that Russia is treating Paul’s case otherwise than Britney’s,” he stated.

As for Greener’s launch, Biden stated, “It is a day we have labored for for a very long time. It is taken exhausting, intense negotiation.”

Biden introduced Greener’s launch Thursday alongside along with his spouse, Cheryl Greiner, Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

“I am standing right here, overwhelmed with emotion,” Cheryl Griner stated.

“At the moment my household is full, however as you all know, there are a lot of different households who are usually not full.”

The Greiner household thanked President Biden and his administration in a press release, and stated they’re “praying for Paul and the speedy and secure return of all People wrongfully detained.”

NBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert stated there was a “collective wave of pleasure and reduction” within the girls’s skilled league as Grenier has been a star for a decade with the Phoenix Mercury.

Biden thanked the United Arab Emirates for serving to “facilitate” Greener’s launch, and the UAE issued a joint assertion with Saudi Arabia saying it was the results of “mediation efforts” by the leaders of the 2 Arab states.

White Home press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre stated, nevertheless, that “there was no mediation” and “the one nations that negotiated this deal have been the US and Russia.”

On the time of her arrest, Griner was enjoying for an expert group in Russia, as do numerous WNBA gamers within the low season.

She pleaded responsible to the costs, however stated she had no intention of breaking the legislation or utilizing the substance banned in Russia.

Greiner testified that she had permission from an American doctor to make use of medical hashish to alleviate ache from her many accidents.

Medical marijuana is just not allowed in Russia.

The Russian International Ministry stated it had been negotiating with Washington to safe Bout’s launch “for a very long time” and that the US had initially “refused dialogue” about his inclusion in any alternate.

“However, the Russian Federation continues to work actively to save lots of our compatriot,” she stated.

The 2005 movie “Lord of Warfare” starring Nicolas Cage was primarily based partially on bot arms trafficking, and has been the topic of a number of books and TV reveals.

Russian information company TASS reported that Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, instructed Bout in a video message that he was conscious that the arms vendor was subjected to “robust bodily and ethical stress” whereas in jail.

Requested about Bout’s launch, a senior US protection official stated, “There may be concern that he’ll return to doing the identical work that he did previously.”

Moscow stated on Friday that relations with Washington remained a “disaster”.

“It might be mistaken to attract any hypothetical conclusions that this may very well be a step in the direction of overcoming the disaster we’re at present dealing with in bilateral relations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov instructed Izvestia newspaper.

Relationships “are nonetheless in a tragic state”.


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