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Report: Russia agrees to release WNBA star Brittney Griner in prisoner swap

Brittney Griner
James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

WNBA star Brittney Griner is coming home.

After spending almost an entire year detained in Russia, the Phoenix Mercury center has been released in a prisoner swap involving convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Paul Whelan, another American that is wrongfully detained according to the State Department, unfortunately isn’t part of the swap.

According to United States President Joe Biden, Griner is on a flight home.

“She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” Biden said Thursday morning. “After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under untolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along.”

It’s amazing news for Griner and her family, as their nightmare appears to be finally coming to an end. The WNBA star was initially detained in February of this year after vape cartridges containing hashish oil were allegedly found in her luggage at a Russian airport.

In August, Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia. Thankfully, she won’t end up spending anywhere close to nine years behind bars.

CNN offered some insight into the timing of the prisoner swap and how it came together over the past week.

“Biden gave final approval for the prisoner swap freeing Griner over the past week, an official familiar with the matter said, adding that Biden was updated on the swap as it was taking place Thursday morning,” wrote Jennifer Hansler, Kylie Atwood, Jeremy Herb and MJ Lee and the CNN staff.

According to Biden, Griner is in good spirits.

“The last few months have been hell for Brittney,” Biden said.

“I’m glad to be able to say that Brittney is in good spirits, she is relieved to finally be heading home.”

He added that Griner has a lot of healing to do.

“The fact remains that she’s lost months of her life, experienced needless trauma,” he said. “She deserves space, privacy and time with her loved ones to recover and heal from her time being wrongfully detained.”

More information on the matter may become available soon, but no matter what, Griner and those close to her are undoubtedly feeling like a weight has been lifted off of their shoulders.

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