In a significant development, American basketball star Brittney Griner was on Thursday released from Russia, in a highly anticipated prisoner swap that saw the US releasing Viktor Bout, an arms dealer allegedly accused of facilitating arms deal against the United States of America.
Joe Biden, US President confirmed the release of the star Basketball player by stating that he had talked to the American basketball player, and she is on her way to home.
"Moments ago, I spoke to Brittney Griner. She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home," tweeted Biden. Earlier, Russia convicted Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, of possessing and smuggling narcotics, sentencing her to 9 years in prison and a fine of 1 million roubles.
Notably, Griner has been in detention since February, when two vape cartridges containing small amounts of cannabis oil were found in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. However, Griner pleaded guilty as she reportedly claimed it accidentally ended up in her luggage.
The 31-year-old is a high-profile athlete and her detention in a country with an often hostile attitude towards the LGBTQ community triggered massive concern.
Speaking of her career as a basketball player, Griner was one of the best 25 players in the history of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and is regarded as the best offensive player in the league.
She began her professional career in 2013 and went on to win two Olympic gold medals with the US women’s national basketball team and a WNBA Championship. Griner came out as a lesbian in 2013 and was the first openly gay athlete to sign an endorsement deal with Nike.