UPDATED 10:10 AM PT – Thursday, December 8, 2022
Russia has freed basketball star Brittney Griner after a high-level prisoner exchange for notorious arms dealer, Viktor Bout.
The swap took place in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday after President Joe Biden signed an order commuting Bout’s 25-year federal prison sentence.
Viktor Bout, nicknamed The Merchant of Death, is a Russian arms trafficker serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States. He is considered to be one of the world’s largest illicit arms dealers.
Griner, an all-star center for the WNBA Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is returning home after being sentenced four-to-nine years back in August for drug possession.
In February, Russian customs had arrested the Houston native after they found a cannabis vaporizer in her possession at a Moscow airport. In the ordeal, the basketball player pleaded guilty but maintained that she had no criminal intent.
Paul Whelan, a US citizen and former Marine wrongfully detained by the State Department, was not included in the prisoner swap. The Biden’s administration had sought the release of both Griner and Whelan.