WNBA star Brittney Griner, after being locked up for months in Russia for 0.7g of cannabis extract, was released on Thursday in a prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested at a Russian airport on February 17 and later pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis cartridges in her luggage, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine. She faced 9 years in prison.
” [Mme Griner] bought two cartridges for his personal use, which contained 0.252 grams and 0.45 grams of cannabis extract, for a total of 0.702 grams,” Russian news agency TASS said. Griner was transferred to a Russian penal colony last month.
“She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” Biden said at the White House, alongside Griner’s wife Cherelle, Vice President Kamala Harris and of Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
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
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies that the exchange took place in Abu-Dhabi and that Viktor Bout had been repatriated by plane.
Viktor Bout is a former Soviet Army lieutenant colonel who has been described by the US Department of Justice as one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers, including supplying arms and missiles to Afghanistan, in Colombia, Congo and against Gaddafi’s government in Libya in 2011.
The mobilization of the American government to bring back the basketball player did not fail to react given the thousands of other Americans imprisoned in the United States and elsewhere for reasons related to cannabis.
Maybe free some people in jail for weed here too? pic.twitter.com/AYo0ZC79lZ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 31, 2022