WNBA star Brittney Grinerafter nearly a year in custody. The United States negotiated a one-for-one prisoner swap involving Griner and convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
According to CBS News, the United States and Russia had agreed to the swap a week before her release and the exchange took place in the United Arab Emirates after President Biden gave his final approval for the swap.
On Thursday morning, the White House confirmed Griner's safety and posted a video of President Biden speaking to Griner on the phone. Biden said that he was "glad to be able to say Brittney is in good spirits," and she's currently flying home to the United States.
Griner was detained on Feb. 17, 2022 at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow when the Russian Federal Customs Service discovered vape cartridges containing marijuana concentrate hashish oil in her luggage. In October, the Phoenix Mercury star was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison.
Griner submitted an appeal in an effort to get her sentence reduced in October, which was denied. Last month, Griner was moved to a penal colony in the Mordovia region of Russia.
Following Griner's release, the sports world was overjoyed to hear of Griner's safe return to the United States. Here's how Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, WNBA legend Sue Bird, and others reacted to the news.
FREED BG🙏🏽— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) December 8, 2022
Welcome Home BG!— Hélà (@KyrieIrving) December 8, 2022
Thank you for exemplifying what a true Warrior spirit looks like. You’re forever loved by so many unconditionally. 🤞🏾♾
Grateful for the long-overdue release of Brittney Griner today from Russian custody. Kudos to @POTUS and his administration for the difficult diplomatic work involved to make it happen. We’re looking forward to having Brittney back home. https://t.co/G5yKliRoxd— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 8, 2022
BG is FREE!!! 294 days and she is coming home!!! 😭🤍🙏🏻❤️— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) December 8, 2022
BG!!! I am literally tearing up right now!!! Faith man!!!! Thank God!!! My heart just dropped!!! Thank you to everyone that pushed FREE BG ❤️— Erica Wheeler (@EWeezy_For3eezy) December 8, 2022
Today feels like a holiday!
HAPPY BG DAY! 🏾
The best news to start our day with: finally, our sister BG is coming home!!— Chiney Ogwumike (@chiney) December 8, 2022
So grateful for all those who tirelessly worked to make this happen. Welcome home, Brittney!!!!
Went from FREE BG to BG is FREE!! Won’t he do it! 🙌🏾— Shey Peddy (@SheyP11) December 8, 2022