After 294 days of wrongful detainment, part of which was spent imprisoned in a penal colony, Brittney Griner is coming home. She has been freed because of a prisoner exchange; the United States is freeing Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer.
Griner’s fellow WNBA superstar Breanna Stewart has tweeted reminders about Griner’s detainment every day for quite some time.
BG is FREE!!! 294 days and she is coming home!!! ❤️— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) December 8, 2022
President Biden also recently tweeted about the news:
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT
Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison for carrying cannabis oil in her luggage while on her way home from playing basketball in Russia. The cannabis was medically prescribed and was not in the amount that would warrant that long of a sentence under Russian law. Russia ignored its own rules and held a sham trial that Griner never had a chance of winning. It is believed to have used Griner as a political pawn during its ongoing war with Ukraine.
Another detained American, Paul Whelan, was involved in the swap negotiations but was not included in the final deal. Whelan is a corporate security executive who has been detained in Russia since December 2018 and is serving a 16-year sentence. He has been charged with espionage; the U.S. government considers him innoncent.