US WNBA star Brittney Griner was released in a high-profile prisoner swap in exchange for a Russian national who was detained in the US, Russia announced on Thursday.
A statement from the Foreign Ministry read, “Russian citizen Viktor Bout was traded for basketball player (Brittney) Griner at Abu Dhabi airport and returned to his home country.”
Washington had “categorically rejected” to engage in dialogue regarding Bout’s transaction, but Russia had “continued this effort,” it was further stated.
US President Joe Biden confirmed the conversation in a second statement, claiming to have spoken to Griner “moments ago.”
After being detained in a Russian correctional colony, Biden claimed that Griner is “safe” and returning home. On Thursday morning, he is anticipated to address the media from the White House.
Bout was detained in Thailand in 2008 on suspicion of delivering illicit weaponry, extradited to the US, and given a 25-year prison term.
Griner was detained in February at the Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow on suspicion of attempting to smuggle hashish oil into Russia. He was given a nine-year prison term.