Brittney Griner the WNBA star who was arrested and convicted for bring Marijuana into Russia has been released after a prisoner exchange that sets Viktor Bout The Merchant of Death free. Viktor Bout who was arrested back in 2008 for trying to sell missiles that were intended to be used against US troops. Viktor Bout who was sentenced to twenty five years in prison served around ten years Brittney Griner who was sentenced to nine years in prison for bringing hashish oil into Russia has been in custody since her arrest in February 2022.
Brittney Griner of course is a celebrity which is the only reason her case attracted public attention. Yes her sentence was harsh but until recently the US Government sentenced people to decades in prison for the same amount of drugs. Viktor Bout is a dangerous individual who will probably pick up right where he left off
Brittney Griner More News
Brittney Griner, the American basketball star imprisoned in Russia, was released in an exchange for the convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, President Biden announced on Thursday. The trade ended 10 months of captivity for Ms. Griner, whose conviction on drug smuggling charges became an international cause, entangled in Russia’s deteriorating relations with the United States since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking from the White House with Ms. Griner’s wife Cherelle by his side, Mr. Biden said that he had spoken with Brittney Griner and that she would be back in the United States within 24 hours. “Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones — and she should have been there all along,” he said.
Here is what to know:
- Russian officials refused to free another jailed American, Paul Whelan, despite “ceaseless efforts” by U.S. diplomats to include him in an exchange, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said. “While we celebrate Brittney’s release, Paul Whelan and his family continue to suffer needlessly,” Mr. Blinken said.
- The trade freed Viktor Bout, one of the most notorious arms dealers of modern times, who earned the nickname “Merchant of Death” as he evaded capture for years. He was convicted in 2011 by a New York jury on four counts that included conspiring to kill Americans and sentenced to 25 years.
- U.S. officials said Brittney. Griner, 32, was flown from Russia to the United Arab Emirates, and there boarded a plane to the United States. Arrested in February at an airport outside Moscow for carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage, she had been convicted of drug smuggling and been transferred to one of Russia’s most feared penal colonies, where former inmates have described torture, harsh beatings and slave labor conditions.
- The swap may have been an effort by President Vladimir V. Putin government to divert attention from Russia’s flailing war effort in Ukraine. In recent days, Ukrainian forces have struck military bases inside Russian territory with long-range drones, demonstrating their intent to bring the conflict closer to Moscow. On Wednesday, Mr. Putin acknowledged in a televised speech that Russians should expect a protracted war.
Brittney Griner, the W.N.B.A. star who was released from Russian custody on Thursday through a prisoner swap, had been found guilty of trying to smuggle illegal narcotics into Russia and sentenced to nine years in a penal colony. The Biden administration had been trying to strike a deal with Russia to free her for months.
Here is a look at the 10-month-saga that followed Ms. Griner’s February arrest at a Moscow area airport.
The Russian Federal Customs Service said that a sniffer dog had prompted it to search Griner’s carry-on luggage at Sheremetyevo airport on Feb. 17, when she traveled there to rejoin here Russian pro tem, UMMC Yekaterinburg, and that it had found vape cartridges containing hashish oil.
Hashish oil is a marijuana concentrate that has a high concentration of the psychoactive chemical THC, and it is commonly sold in cartridges that are used in vape pens. The Russian Federal Customs Service said that customs officers had noticed vapes after scanning Griner’s bag.
Brittney Griner, 32, who has played for the W.N.B.A.’s Phoenix Mercury since 2013, was convicted on a charge of attempting to smuggle narcotics into Russia in August and was sentenced to a penal colony for nine years, near the 10-year maximum. Her appeal of her conviction was denied on Oct. 25, and she was moved to a penal colony in Mordovia in November.
Brittney. Griner played for the Russian team UMMC Yekaterinburg for several years during the W.N.B.A. off-season. Many American female players competed with high-paying Russian teams before the war with Ukraine. A W.N.B.A. spokeswoman said that all the others besides Griner had left Russia and Ukraine by March 5 with the war underway.
The financial incentives to play in Russia were compelling. W.N.B.A. players make a fraction of what their male counterparts do in the N.B.A. International women’s teams, which tend to have more government and corporate financial support than those in the W.N.B.A., can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a season, and sometimes more than $1 million.
Cherelle Griner, the wife of basketball star Brittney Griner, stood next to President Biden at the White House during his announcement about her wife’s release on Thursday and said she had endured some of the “darkest moments” of her life since her partner’s arrest in Moscow in February.
Over the months, she had steadily put public pressure on the White House not to forget about her wife and she said that “today my family is whole.”
“The most important emotion I have right now is sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration. He just mentioned that this work is not easy, and it hasn’t been,” she said, adding that she also remembered the family of Paul Whelan, another American who remains imprisoned in Russia.
Cherelle Griner said in October that she had spoken to her wife just twice by phone since her detention. She said at the time that the W.N.B.A. star was afraid of being “left and forgotten.”
In her brief address, she also thanked other W.N.B.A. players for their support. The players had led social media campaigns and charity drives to support Brittney Griner, who has played for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013.
Brittney Griner was stopped in February at an airport near Moscow. Customs officials accused her of carrying vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage. She had been returning to Russia to play for UMMC Yekaterinburg, a powerhouse professional women’s basketball team, during the W.N.B.A. off season.