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Brittney Griner Released from Russian Custody in Prisoner Swap

Brittney Griner was released from a Russia prison in a one-for-prisoner swap with convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

The exchange took place on Thursday after President Biden gave final approval of the swap following weeks of negotiations. The United States and Russia agreed on the swap last Thursday.

Brittney Griner sits on a plane as she waits Thursday to depart on the next leg of her journey to the United States. FSB / TASS via ZUMA Press

The White House confirmed the exchange in a tweet and added that Griner spoke to Biden via phone on Thursday.

Speaking at the White House shortly after talking to Griner, Biden said he was "glad to be able to say Brittney is in good spirits."

The exchange of WNBA star Brittney Griner and arms dealer Viktor Bout was a rare moment of successful diplomacy between Moscow and Washington as relations between the two countries deteriorate over the war in Ukraine. -NBC News
Brittney Griner back on U.S. soil after Russian prisoner swap

In a statement obtained by ESPN, Griner’s family thanked Biden and his administration, which included former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, for their efforts in bringing her home.

“We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to President Biden and his administration for the tireless work they did to bring Brittney home. We would like to extend a special thank you to Governor Richardson and Mickey Bergman of the Richardson Center for their work as well as remaining in constant communication with us.

“We sincerely thank you all for the kind words, thoughts and prayers - including Paul and the Whelan family who have been generous with their support for Brittney and our family during what we know is a heartbreaking time. We pray for Paul and for all wrongfully detained Americans’ swift and safe return.

We ask that you respect our privacy as we embark on this road to healing.

The Griner Family “

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