Freed. Brittney Griner is home after 294 days “needless trauma”

Lee Heidhues 12.8.2022

American basketball star is Free at Last after being held hostage by Vladimir Putin in the Russian Court and penal system.

The Biden Administration negotiated her release in exchange for a Russian arms dealer who has served 19 years of a 25 year sentence. Some say, justifiably, that American Paul Whelan jailed the past four years on sham “espionage” charges should have been part of the exchange.

Putin was adamant that it was just Brittney or no deal. It’s easy to criticize The Biden Administration when it’s not a decision for the critics to make.

I have been blogging about this miscarriage of justice since Brittney was arrested and incarcerated 294 days ago. It’s an occasion to celebrate.

Excerpted from Moscow Times 12.8.2022

Russia and the United States have exchanged the U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, U.S. and Russian officials said Thursday. 

The WNBA star, who was serving a nine-year-prison sentence in a Russian jail on drug charges, was released on Thursday in a one-for-one swap for Bout, an arms dealer who has been in a U.S. prison for the past 12 years.

Brittney Griner on the type of Court where she belongs.

The exchange was approved by U.S. President Joe Biden last week and took place early on Thursday in the United Arab Emirates, CBS news reported. 

Biden spoke with Griner on Thursday morning as the 32-year-old began her journey to the United States.

“She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home,” Biden later tweeted alongside photos of himself in the Oval Office with Griner’s wife Cherelle.

Saying that Griner would need time to recover from the “needless trauma” of her imprisonment in Russia, Biden nevertheless remarked that she was “in good spirits.”

“She deserves space, privacy and time with her loved ones to recover and heal from her time being wrongfully detained,” he added.

Brittney Griner gives the “V for Victory” sign in happier times.

Biden also confirmed that despite Griner’s release, the other high-profile U.S. citizen jailed in Russia, Paul Whelan, remains detained.

“We have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release,” Biden said of the former U.S. marine who was arrested in 2018 and accused of spying while visiting Moscow for a wedding, adding that his administration was “not giving up, we will never give up.”

Paul Whelan left behind in the Brittney Griner prisoner swap

Top photo – Brittney Griner on her way Home – 12.8.2022