The two-time Olympic basketball champion, 32, had received a nine-year sentence after a weeks-long trial stemming from her Feb. 17 detainment for allegedly possessing cannabis oil in her luggage after arriving in Moscow from New York City.
Following the sentence, the Biden administration offered a prisoner swap with Russia on July 27 to secure the release of Griner and Paul Whelan, a U.S. Marine held since 2018 for alleged espionage.
The negotiations involved the exchange of the Americans for a Russian prisoner in the United States, Viktor Bout, who was convicted of arms trafficking and was in the middle of a 25-year sentence.
After news of the successful exchange broke, Griner’s family thanked the Biden administration and supported Whelan’s family as Whelan remained in Russia following the deal.
“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 also 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,” a declaração lê.
Asking for privacy as the family “embark on this road to healing,” the statement says: “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 the swift and safe return of all wrongfully-detained Americans.”
VÍDEO RELACIONADO: WNBA Star Brittney Griner Released from Russian Custody in Prisoner Swap
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Presidente Joe Biden celebrated Griner’s release on Thursday morning, adding that the WNBA star was expected to land in the United States within the next 24 horas.
He stated during his remarks from the White House: “Moments ago, standing together with her wife Cherelle in the Oval Office, I spoke with Brittney Griner. She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home after months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances.”
Speaking about the almost year-long journey, he expressed: “This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release. It took painstaking and intense negotiations, and I wanna thank all the hardworking public servants across my administration who worked tirelessly to secure her release.”