President Joe Biden acknowledged that Britney Reiner’s release has occurred while Paul Whelen remains in prison in Russia.
“She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” President Joe Biden said at the White House Thursday morning, December 8, 2022 alongside Griner’s wife, Cherelle.
Greiner has been detained since was arrested on February 17, 2022 on smuggling charges, after she was caught at the Federal Customs Service in Russia carrying vaporizer cartridges containing less than a gram of hash oil. She had been prescribed medicinal cannabis in Arizona which is illegal in Russia.
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022
US officials: Russia frees WNBA player Brittney Griner in prisoner swap, with US releasing Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. pic.twitter.com/JEsGaOfFiu
— ESPN (@espn) December 8, 2022
JUST IN: Russia frees WNBA star Brittney Griner in prisoner swap, with U.S. releasing Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Brittney is finally coming home 🎉🙏 pic.twitter.com/lTpNq4HUQu
— Daily Loud (@DailyLoud) December 8, 2022
Brittney Griner has been released in a prisoner-swap for arms dealer Viktor Bout, per multiple reports.
Griner is now in U.S. custody. pic.twitter.com/b8KwgsNTQY
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 8, 2022
On November 2, 2011, Viktor Bout was convicted by a jury in a Manhattan federal court of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and officials, delivery of anti-aircraft missiles, and providing aid to a terrorist organization, and was sentenced to the minimum 25 years’ imprisonment because the crime was due to a sting operation.
In a US sting operation, Bout was arrested on March 6, 2008 in Thailand on terrorism charges by the Royal Thai Police in cooperation with American authorities and Interpol. The U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Eric G. John requested his extradition under the Extradition Act with Thailand, which was eventually mandated by the Thai High Court in August 2010. Bout was accused of intending to sell arms to a US DEA informer pretending to represent the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for use against U.S. forces in Colombia.
Viktor Bout (aka ‘Merchant of Death’) was held from June 2012 until December 2022 at the United States Penitentiary, Marion, in Marion, Illinois, before being released in the prisoner exchange for US Basketball player Brittney Griner.