Brittney Griner, 32, a major star in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), has been released from a Russian prison after months of incarceration. She has been detained in Russia since February.
Griner was held in Russia on drug charges. A one-for-one prisoner exchange announced by the Biden Administration that will release arms dealer Viktor Bout will bring Griner back to the United States on Dec. 8.
In February 2022, Griner was detained by Russian customs agents for allegedly possessing hashish oil which Russian officials claim was discovered in her luggage. Griner was then arrested for drug smuggling. President Biden called what happened next to Griner in Russia a “show trial” and stated that Griner was “wrongfully detained.”
President Biden made a statement on Griner’s release early on the morning of Dec. 8th and released photos of him meeting with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, in the Oval Office and speaking with Brittney Griner on the phone atop the Resolute Desk. Cherelle Griner will be flown by the U.S. government to San Antonio, Texas where Brittney Griner will arrive back in the U.S.
“She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” President Biden said on Dec. 8th during a West Wing press conference. “She should have never been detained in the first place… these past few months have been hell for Brittney and Cherelle,” the President added.
Speaking after President Biden at the White House, Cherelle Griner, said she was, “overwhelmed with emotions. But the most important emotion that I have right now is just sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration. He just mentioned this work is not easy and it has not been — so many hands are involved.”
Cherelle Griner then thanked Vice President Harris and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken among many others.
Brittney Griner was detained a week before Russia invaded Ukraine. Biden also cautioned Americans to be careful about their travel and to be particularly cautious traveling to Russia. Several activists in the U.S. kept her name in the news on social media with a “free Brittney” campaign push to keep up awareness of her incarceration in Russia.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke