WNBA star, Brittney Griner has been freed from a Russian prison

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WNBA star, Brittney Griner, has been freed from a Russian prison

President Biden says WNBA star Brittney Griner has been freed from a Russian prison.

Standing along side Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, at the White House, Biden said it was a day that “we worked for a long time. ”

“She’s safe. She’s on a plane. She’s on her way home after months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable conditions,” Biden said from the Roosevelt Room.

Biden spoke with Griner from the Oval Office just before making the announcement. He said she was in good spirits, but was experiencing “trauma” and would need time to heal.

“Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones and she should have been there all along,” Biden said.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the Thursday in a press release that Griner was swapped at the Abu Dhabi airport for convicted Russian arms trader Viktor Bout.

“As a result of intense efforts, we managed to agree with the American side on organization of an exchange of Bout for Griner,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “The Russian citizen has been returned to his homeland.”

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The exchange did not include former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan who remains imprisoned in Russia, on espionage charges that the U.S. says are false.

The exchange did not include former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan who remains imprisoned in Russia, on espionage charges that the U.S. says are false.

“While we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up,” Biden said Thursday. “We will never give up.”

Senior administration officials told reporters on a conference call later that the agreement to secure Griner’s release was made in recent days after months of talks and a variety of proposals – proposals that were aimed at also trying to secure Whelan’s release.

But Russians refused to consider Whelan’s release.

“This was not a situation where we had a choice of which American to bring home,” an official told reporters on a conference call. “It was a choice between bringing home one particular American – Brittney Griner – or bringing home none.”

Cherelle Griner said she was overwhelmed by emotions, expressing gratitude to Biden, Vice President Harris, and other members of the administration involved in securing her wife’s release. She thanked the WNBA, Griner’s agent, and others.

“BG and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home, including Paul” she said.

Griner’s detention had been a top priority for Biden and his administration–and he was under increasing pressure to secure her release. In July, she sent him a handwritten letter, saying “I’m terrified I might be here forever.” Biden said last month that he hoped Russian President Vladimir Putin would be more willing to discuss a prisoner exchange after the U.S. midterm elections were over.

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