Brittney Griner, WNBA player and star of the Russian Basketball Association (WNBA), has returned to Texas six months after leaving the USA.
Griner was arrested in February for transporting cannabis oil to a Moscow airport. He was then exchanged with Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer.
The flight to San Antonio was made for her.
John Kirby, White House spokesperson, told MSNBC Friday morning that Griner was in good spirits and is “good health”.
Joe Biden announced Griner’s return home Thursday for the first time on Thursday. Cherelle Griner was present at Mr Biden’s White House announcement and would meet Griner in San Antonio.
Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner said that Brittney had been forced to face an inconceivable situation. He also expressed his delight at her safe return.
Griner was detained in February, just days after Russia invaded Ukraine.
One of America’s most well-known athletes is she. The double Olympic basketball champion from the USA was a key player for Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA during the US basketball season.
She flew to Moscow to participate in Russian off-season soccer. She admitted that the marijuana oil she found in her bag was an honest mistake during her Russian trial.
In July, the Biden administration offered a prisoner swap, knowing that Moscow long sought Bout’s release. Bout is a notorious arms trader known as “The Merchant of Death”. For 12 years, he has been in an American prison.
Russian state media footage showed the pair crossing the asphalt with their teams. The video was apparently taken by Russian security officials and shows Bout being warmly welcomed by Griner (6ft 9in) (206cm). The video was edited to show the parties moving on.
The Moscow foreign ministry stated in a statement that “the Russian citizen was returned to his home country.”
Bout arrived in Moscow via live television from Russia. Photographs showed Bout hugging his wife and mother at the airport’s tarmac.
It was possible. He told reporters at the airport that this was the most important thing.
He said, “In the middle-of the night they simply got me up and said, ‘Get all your stuff together’.”
Griner will celebrate his 32nd birthday in Houston on October 31st with a light display, according to Sylvester Turner, Houston’s mayor.
Roger D Carstens (US special envoy to hostage issues), tweeted Griner’s welcome. He said, “So glad to have Brittney return on US soil.”
She is not sure how much time she will stay in San Antonio, before moving on to Houston (around 200 miles (320km), to her east).
Unnamed US officials spoke on condition that Griner would be treated at Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio.
She is expected to join the Department of Defense program known as Pisa, which is designed to assist former prisoners to adapt to their normal lives.
Ned Price, spokesperson for the state department, said that Griner would be contacted by the government to discuss her needs on Thursday.
He said that she may need the US’ assistance and that he would make every effort to help her.
Many Republicans criticized the White House’s agreement to this deal.
What a shameful and embarrassing embarrassment to the USA !!!” On his Truth Social website, former President Donald Trump posted the following:
This is Vladimir Putin’s gift, and it threatens American lives.
Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a prominent critic of Mr Trump’s policies and tweets that the Biden government had displayed “weakness” in agreeing to free Bout.
Two private aircraft brought Bout and Griner from Moscow and Washington to Abu Dhabi, where they were then flown home.
During the summer negotiations to release Griner were in progress. The US stated that it was clear that it desired ex-Marine Paul Whelan included in any exchange.
At a press conference on Friday, Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, stated that prisoner swaps between Russia, the US, and other countries were possible. He also said that intelligence services from both the US and Russia remain in touch.
Whelan was in prison in 2018 for spying suspicions, but Thursday’s swap did not include him, sabotaging his hopes and family.
Whelan, who is currently being held in the penitentiary, called CNN to say that he was disappointed more hadn’t been done. He said that he has not committed any crime and was very sorry for this.
He said, “I don’t know why I’m still here.” I was lead to believe things were heading in the right direction and that governments were still negotiating. It seemed like something would soon happen.
Whelan was told by Mr Carstens via tweet that he would “stay strong” and not lose heart.
The special envoy stated that they were working hard to bring you home.
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Leader of the House of Representatives is likely to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives. He wrote that it was unconscionable to not secure Whelan’s release in the context of the agreement.
Viktor Bout was a warlord and rebel leader who became one of the most wanted men in the world. Lord of War, a Hollywood movie about his exploits was made in 2005.
In 2008, he was caught in a Bangkok hotel and taken into custody to end his secret career. This angered the Russian government.
Two years later, he was arrested and extradited to the United States. He has been in American prisons for 12 years now.
Russian state media footage showed him posing with a bouquet and hugging his mother before embarking on his flight.
Bout’s wife Alla said that after husband returned home from prison, she was fed well and treated very nicely during the prisoner exchange.
She said, “He wasn’t shackled or handcuffed. He was treated very generously.”