Brittney Griner Released From Prison

10 Tampa Bay

In February, WBNA star Brittney Griner was detained in Russia on drug charges. She ended up pleading guilty, but she also sent an open letter to President Joe Biden asking him to help her get back to the United States.

Griner was convicted and sentenced to 9 years in a Russian prison; however, the U.S. claimed that they were working on a prisoner swap. The U.S. was hoping to trade Griner and fellow American Paul Whelan for prisoner Viktor Bout, a Russian in prison in the United States.

Today, President Biden announced some exciting news for Griner and her family. President Biden tweeted, “Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner. She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home.”

Unfortunately, Whelan is not on his way home. He was not part of the swap. According to Biden, “This was not a choice of which American to bring home. Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s. And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We will never give up.” 

According to a U.S. official, “It was a choice to get Brittney or nothing.”

While Whelan’s family is happy for Griner and her family, they seem to be losing hope of Whelan returning home before his prison sentence is over. He is currently serving a 16 year prison sentence for espionage charges, which he claims are not true.

According to Biden, it took “painstaking and intense negotiations” to get Griner home. He added, “This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release.”

Vout, the prisoner exchanged for Griner, is also known as the “Merchant of Death.” Before the swap, he was serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States. He was charged with conspiring to kill U.S. citizens, providing materials to a terrorist organization, and exporting anti-aircraft missiles.

Does it surprise you that Griner is on her way home? Does it concern you that Vout is free? Do you think the U.S. will be successful in getting Whelan home?