Russia releases Brittney Griner after prisoner swap with USA

WNBA star Brittney Griner is coming home to the US (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP photo via

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña 

After almost five months of being imprisoned on Russian soil, Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) superstar Brittney Griner is finally coming home to the United States.

The development came after US president Joe Biden announced that they agreed to a prisoner swap that will send back Griner to her home country in exchange for Russian citizen Viktor Bout.

“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,” Biden said.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were together with Griner’s wife, Cherelle, in the oval office during the formal announcement.

“Today my family is whole. BG and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home,” said Cherelle.

Several months ago, Griner was convicted of drug smuggling and faced a nine-year imprisonment in Russia including a 1-million rubles fine ($16,400 or 905,189 pesos).

The decision came after the American basketball player was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport last February 17, 2022.

Russian authorities found out that Griner possessed less than a gram of cannabis oil stocked in vape cartridges upon landing at the said airport.

Griner is one of the biggest basketball stars in the WNBA and was the heart and soul of the Phoenix Mercury squad.

The defensive center was a two-time Olympic basketball gold medalist and was named to the WNBA All-Star selection eight times since entering the league in 2013.

A year after landing in Phoenix, Griner helped the franchise clinch a WNBA championship while also winning the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year award.