Brittney Griner returns to U.S. after release from Russia

Brittney Griner returned to the United States early Friday after being released in a high-profile prisoner swap after nearly 10 months in detention in Russia.

Griner was seen getting off a plane that landed at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas on Friday.

US officials said Thursday she would be offered specialized medical services and counseling upon her return, but declined to go into details, citing privacy concerns.

Griner had been held in Russia for almost 10 months. She was swapped for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout on Thursday.

The exchange, which came at a time of heightened tensions over the invasion of Ukraine, achieved a top goal for President Joe Biden but came at a heavy price, leaving Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia for almost four years .

In an address from the White House on Thursday, Biden, who spoke to Griner on the phone, said that “the past few months have been hell for Brittney” but that she is in good spirits.

“This is a day we’ve been working toward for a long time,” Biden said. “We have never stopped pushing for their release. It has taken arduous and intense negotiations, and I would like to thank all the hardworking officers throughout my administration who have worked tirelessly to secure her release.”

Cherelle Griner also spoke at the White House and thanked a number of people who helped secure her wife’s release.

“Today, my family is whole, but as you all know, there are so many other families that aren’t whole,” Cherelle Griner said. “BG and I will remain committed to bringing every American home, including Paul, whose family is in our hearts today as we celebrate BG being home.”

Griner was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February when customs officers said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage. She pleaded guilty in July but was still on trial because a guilty plea in Russia’s judicial system does not automatically end a case.

She admitted in court that she possessed the canisters, but said she had no criminal intent and that their presence in her luggage was due to hasty packing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Brittney Griner returns to U.S. after release from Russia

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