© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. basketball participant Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with unlawful possession of hashish, is escorted earlier than the decision in Khimki outdoors Moscow, Russia, August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Ev
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner has been launched in a prisoner swap with Russia and is now in U.S. custody, President Joe Biden mentioned on Thursday.
The Russian international ministry mentioned it traded Griner for Russian citizen Viktor Bout, a former arms seller. The swap occurred on the Abu Dhabi airport within the United Arab Emirates, Russia information companies mentioned.
“She is secure. She is on a airplane. She is on her manner residence,” Biden mentioned in a tweet.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke by cellphone with Griner from the Oval Workplace, a U.S. official mentioned, including that the decision included Griner’s spouse, Cherelle. The White Home launched a photograph of the phone name.
Biden was set to make remarks at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT), the White Home mentioned.
Griner, 32, a star of the Girls’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation’s Phoenix Mercury, was arrested on Feb. 17. Talks to safe her launch have been difficult by Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine and the following deep souring of ties between Washington and Moscow.
A two-time Olympic gold medallist, Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport when vape cartridges containing hashish oil, which is banned in Russia, have been present in her baggage.
She was sentenced on Aug. 4 to 9 years in a penal colony on costs of possessing and smuggling medicine. She had pleaded responsible, however mentioned she had made an “sincere mistake” and had not meant to interrupt the regulation.
Final month she was taken to a penal colony within the Russian area of Mordovia to serve her jail sentence.
Variously dubbed “the service provider of demise” and “the sanctions buster” for his skill to get round arms embargoes, Bout, 55, was one of many world’s most needed males earlier than his arrest.
For nearly 20 years, Bout turned the world’s most infamous arms seller, promoting weaponry to rogue states, insurgent teams and murderous warlords in Africa, Asia and South America. For specialists on the Russian safety companies, Moscow’s lasting curiosity in Bout trace strongly at Russian intelligence ties.